Italian Navy 50 years Luni
Italian Navy celebrates 50 years of NAS Luni.

On 15 October 2018, Naval Air Station Luni, Northern Italy, kicked off the celebrations for its 50th anniversary with a series of activities that involved military and civil authorities, as well as surrounding citizens. The main event included a military ceremony attended by Captain of Vessel Onofrio Marco Frumusa, Rear Admiral Placido Torresi, Admiral Donato Marzano, together with representatives of the Police Forces and neighboring Municipalities and some former members of the Italian Navy.

The military authorities highlighted all the main achievements of the base's personnel during the first half century, but also underlined how the good work done by the "warriors" of the past must be taken as an example to face the new challenges of the future.

"This anniversary marks an important milestone that should make us reflect on the fatigue, passion and commitment shown by the men who have preceded us: they have never given up! It is a witness passed from generation to generation, handed down with indomitable spirit to allow the Navy to reach the great goals that are obvious to everyone," Captain Frumusa said.

NAS Luni personnel have flown more than 195,000 flight hours from the establishment of the base to date, many of which have been carried out in operating theaters overseas.

Rear Admiral Placido Torresi highlighted the technological evolution of the Italian Navy: "The helicopters EH-101 and SH-90 are just a starting point: new helicopters will have to be tested to meet the needs of the Naval Squadron and the base will soon receive the flight simulator of the SH-90 which will implement the existing one of the EH-101. These are great technology, but that could not work without the support of valuable personnel."

Torresi also talked about the new F-35B stealth fighter: "During the next few years we will introduce the modern F-35 aircraft as the Harrier's operational life will end in 2024-25. The F-35 will start testing aboard the Cavour in 2020."

The last speech was made by Admiral Donato Marzano, Commander in Chief of the Naval Squadron, which marked the strong union between the base and the surrounding territory: "Here is a system that works perfectly and this ceremony will never end because the military grades remain marked on our hearts. Almost 200 thousand flying hours have been carried out here in fifty years and we must be proud of the results obtained thanks also to the work done in synergy with all the representatives of the surrounding territory." Marzano also mentioned Andrea Fazio, he was a flight specialist who died in the helicopter crash of last April during the "Mare Aperto" exercise.

The tribute to the fallen also continued at the end of the ceremony with the blessing and deposition of a laurel wreath in front of the monument dedicated to them.


At the end of the ceremony, the guests were able to admire a large static display of aircraft that included the helicopters of the home squadrons, the First and Fifth, and those of some guests. The tour began with an MH-90 and a SH-90, both belonging to the Fifth Sqn. The first was armed with a 7.62 mm Dillon M134D machine gun and the second with a Marte MK2/S missile. The SH-90 is the last helicopter entered in the Navy fleet and is a medium weight aircraft and one of the most advanced in the world thanks to the "Fly by wire" flight control system. It is equipped with a surface detection radar and an underwater tracking system composed of a sonar and sound buoy launcher. It can be armed with Dillon M134D machine gun, MU-90 torpedoes and MK2/S anti-ship missiles. The fleet of the Fifth Sqn, currently being completed, will consist of more than 15 helicopters including the NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) version and the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) version for assault missions and special forces support. The Fifth Sqn performs anti-submarine, anti-ship and air assault missions mainly in support of the Naval Squadron, Raiders and Divers.

The display also included an EH-101 belonging to the First Sqn. The EH-101 is a medium, multi-role aircraft, with the ability to operate in any weather condition. Depending on the version, it can be equipped with detection radar, low frequency sonar, and armed with MU-90 torpedoes, Marte MK2/S anti-ship missiles, CHAFFS/FLARES launchers and MG-42/59 machine guns. The helicopters of the First Sqn are in the ASH version and are equipped with a ramp for the tactical transport of personnel (up to 34 people or 16 stretchers) and vehicles. The First Sqn mainly carries out air assault and support missions to the Special Forces operating from naval units or from the ground.

Both Squadrons also carry out support missions to the Civil Protection, SAR and MEDEVAC.

Along the flight line there were also some guests: two Italian Army AH-129D Mangusta attack helicopters assigned to the 5th Regiment "Rigel", which will start a mission aboard Cavour aircraft carrier soon, and an Italian Coast Guard AW-139 assigned to the 1st Flight Group.

In addition to the outdoor display, a shelter housed some of the latest technologies from leading aerospace companies. Leonardo, the main sponsor of the event, has showcased its new AWHERO which is a system belonging to tactical UAVs, capable of performing land operations in complex environments and operating at sea even with critical weather and marine conditions.

The celebration continued on November 16 and 17 with an Open Day that included visits to aircraft and structures of the base.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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