ItN F-35B takes part in main Italian Navy exercise for first time

Cavour carrier F35B Mare Aperto
ITS Cavour aircraft carrier hosts Italian Navy F-35B and Harrier aircraft during the Mare Aperto 2021 exercise.

The Marina Militare (Italian Navy) recently marked a new milestone when its F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) fcombat aircraft took part in the "Mare Aperto" exercise for the first time. It marks the first involvement of the type in a large exercise at sea. As shown in the image posted by Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, the Lightning II is parked on the flight deck of the ITS Cavour aircraft carrier along with a Harrier jump jet and an SH-90 helicopter. The ship is currently participating in the main exercise of the Italian Navy "Mare Aperto 2021".

The Italian Navy began replacing its Harrier fleet in early 2018 with the delivery of the first F-35B. To date, it has received 3 of the 15 planned aircraft. Two of them are permanently based in the United States for pilot training. The F-35 will continue to operate alongside the Harrier for some time, with its final takeover currently scheduled for late 2024 after reaching the IOC (Initial Operational Capability). The ItN F-35B landed aboard Cavour for the first time on 30 July.

The ITS Cavour aircraft carrier completed sea trials for the operational use of the F-35B in the United States last March. Compatibility tests lasted four weeks, with the first landing of an F-35B on 1 March. During the sea trials, two American F-35Bs belonging to the Pax River ITF (Integrated Test Force) carried out over 50 flight missions, in different weather and sea conditions, a night session, about 120 vertical landings and short take-offs via ski jump, as well as individual vertical take-off tests.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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