Italian, British aircraft carriers successfully complete joint exercise, setting new firsts for Italian F-35s

Italian Air Force F35B Cavour
Italian Air Force and Italian Navy F-35Bs on the flight deck of Cavour aircraft carrier.

The armed forces of Italy and the UK successfully completed a major international exercise in the Central Mediterranean Sea on November 22, 2021. The activity involved an Italian naval group, led by the aircraft carrier Cavour and a British naval group, led by the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth. The two flagships operated respectively Italian Navy and Italian Air Force F-35Bs and Royal Navy and US Marine Corps F-35Bs.

On the Italian side, the final day of the exercise was attended by the Chief of Staff of the Italian Defense, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, together with the Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Enrico Credendino and the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, Air Squad General Luca Goretti.

The air operations aboard the Cavour, carried out jointly between the Navy and the Air Force, marked a milestone in the development of the national projection capacity from the sea with the new fifth generation aircraft.

Cavour, which recently conducted an intense training campaign in the United States to certify its flight deck for the Lighteninng II, has proven to be able to develop a niche capability in the international arena.

Italian Air Force F35B Cavour

Admiral Cavo Dragone congratulated the Navy and Air Force personnel involved in the activity, highlighting how "in addition to the excellent capabilities already achieved by the F-35As of the Air Force, both in the operational field and in real operations, today's exercise represents a strong impetus in the process of developing national capacity for aerial projection from the sea, with the integration of fifth-generation joint aerotactic multi-role aircraft, allowing our country to be the only one able to guarantee this contribution within the European Union."

He also said that "the synergies between the Navy and the Air Force in the use of the F-35B from the aircraft carrier will also be achieved in its use from the ground, operating jointly in exercise scenarios without suitable airstrips for conventional take-off aircraft."

The high level of interoperability achieved was proved when two Italian F-35Bs landed on the Queen Elizabeth and at the same time, two US Marine Corps F-35Bs landed on the Cavour. In addition, F-35B aircraft from both carriers performed a demanding air combat mission.

The exercise also marked the first landing of an Italian Air Force Lightening II on the Cavour as well as that of an Italian F-35 on the Queen Helizabeth.

Italian Air Force F35B Cavour

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Italian Ministry of Defense

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