The Italian aircraft carrier Cavour left the naval base in Taranto and began a cruise to a US Navy base on the east coast of the United States.
The mission is intended to test and certify the unit after modernization, enabling it to be used by Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft.
The cruise to the United States is the final stage in the ship’s preparation for the deployment of a new type of combat aircraft. The shipbuilding work lasted 17 months and was completed in May 2020. It included, among others: reinforcement of the airframe structure, assembly of a new crane in the hangar and modification of the fuel system. In addition, a special area has been created on board the ship for specialized aircraft equipment, and access to it will only be available to certified crew and maintenance personnel. At the same time, some elements of the ship’s equipment had to be repositioned so that they would not be damaged or thrown into the sea due to the strong explosion of exhaust gases from the F135 engine during the vertical takeoff of the aircraft.
At least two F-35Bs are scheduled to be stationed on the Cavour during their missions on the East Coast of the United States. The flights will be carried out by Italian and American pilots.
The Italian aircraft carrier will be the third aircraft, with the exception of US Navy units, certified to operate with this type of aircraft. So far, only a couple of British Queen Elizabeth class ships have these capabilities. In the following years, large Japanese Izumo-class destroyers, as well as South Korean airships, should join this group.
The Ministry of Defense of the Italian Republic announced the purchase of 30 aircraft in the shortened take-off and vertical landing version – F-35B. Half of them will go to naval aviation, where they will replace the currently in operation Boeing AV-8B + Harrier machines.
The aircraft carrier Cavour entered service on June 10, 2009. It is the flagship of Italy’s Marina Militar.
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