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Italian Navy: The aircraft carrier ITS Cavour arrived in Norfolk - Ambassador of Italy to the U.S. Armando Varricchio welcomes the crew



Italian Navy: The aircraft carrier ITS Cavour arrived in Norfolk - Ambassador of Italy to the U.S. Armando Varricchio welcomes the crew

The flagship of the Italian Navy is deployed in the US to get the certifications required to operate the new aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F35-B


Yesterday, February 13th 2021, Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier ITS Cavour arrived in the homeport of the 2nd fleet of the US Navy in Norfolk, Virginia. The Italian ambassador in the United States of America, Armando Varricchio, welcomed the flagship of the Italian Navy deployed for the Ready For Operations (RFO) Campaign.

The Ambassador, in his speech to the crew and to the Capt. Giancarlo Ciappina, commander of the ITS Cavour, noted that this year occurs the “160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States. Italy and the United States are allies and friends: our relationship is the legacy of the seafaring tradition that prompted a Genoese navigator to face unknown waves and currents”. The Ambassador emphasized how the aircraft Cavour is “an excellent example of our fruitful collaboration in security and industrial sectors”.

ITS Cavour reached the East Coast of the United States after seventeen days of demanding navigation, including ten days of Atlantic Ocean crossing, having left on January 28th her homeport in Taranto. The RFO Campaign is aimed at getting the certification required to operate the new aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F35-B. “Supporting our Italian allies in certification of their aircraft carrier increases our collective experience in safety and combat abilities” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, Commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet.

After getting the certification to operate F35-B, Italy will join an elité of few countries in the world able to rely on an aircraft carrier capability with 5th generation fighters, being in actual fact the only European country that can boast such capability in the post-Brexit EU.

“A strategic undertaking for our Country and the Italian Navy – announced the Chief of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone – The remaining part of the Italian maritime force will then swiftly integrate this capability”.

The Ambassador has highlighted how “Today, our relationship is decisively focused on the future and on shared challenges, starting with security. Italy, in its role as current Chair of the G20 and in close connection with the United States, is at the frontlines of fighting the pandemic, of fostering economic recovery, and achieving sustainable development”.

Right on security issues, in the final portion of the Atlantic crossing, ITS Cavour had the opportunity to carry out valuable training in cooperation with US Navy maritime reconnaissance maritime patrol air assets as well as the Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Stout. Exercises designed to test and prove the carrier’s ability to defend itself against air threats were conducted as well as communication exercises and maneuvers in formation.

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RFO Campaign insights

This period at sea has been crucial for the crew of ITS Cavour, which took every opportunity to practice and enhance its reaction capabilities, in order to employ such skills during the sea trials due to begin in the forecoming days.

By this time, ITS Cavour is going to spend two weeks in Norfolk Naval Station, where the crew will carry out all the technical preparation for the certification trials at sea, scheduled by the end of February. This phase primarily includes a series of takeoffs and landings of F35-B aircrafts on the ship, as well as a number of technical trials conducted by a team of engineers of the Integrated Test Force.

A successful combination of these tests is necessary to obtain a technical certification of compatibility between the Italian ship and the new aircraft.

After getting certified to operate F35-B, aircraft carrier Cavour is expected to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by 2024, date by which it will have an adequate number of aircraft and trained pilots.

The programme will then be completed with the achievement of Final Operational Capability, after delivery of the 15th and last aircraft to the Italian Navy.

The RFO Campaign coincides with the 160th anniversary of the Italian Navy, 10 years of ITS Cavour as Italian flag ship, the 30th anniversary of the Embarked Aircraft Group, and 30 years since the first landing of the AV-8 Harrier on board of ITS Garibaldi (August 1991).