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Italian Navy carrier Cavour arrives in US for F-35B flight certification

The Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier ITS Cavour arrived at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia on 13 February to conduct F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter ‘Ready for Operation’ certification trials.

        arriving in Norfolk Naval Station for the F-35B certification campaign.
       (US Navy)

ITS Cavour arriving in Norfolk Naval Station for the F-35B certification campaign. (US Navy)

During the trials, Italian Navy pilots will learn to safely land and launch the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant and qualify for transition to the new aircraft.

The carrier-based flight tests, along with subsequent joint operations with US 2nd Fleet ships and aircraft, are meant to improve interoperability and strengthen the relationship between two NATO llies, US Navy (USN) officials said in a statement.

Cavour was commissioned in 2008 and has been operating the AV-8B Plus Harrier II, which will be replaced by the F-35Bs Italy is buying for its navy and air force.

Welcomed and supported by the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CNV 74) support personnel, Cavour will remain in the US for two weeks, to prepare for the follow-on at-sea operations. Stennis is co-ordinating and providing all pier services required by Cavour , including refueling, diving operations, equipment and personnel on load, security, and contingency medical functions, USN officials said.

While in the Western Atlantic, Cavour will be embarked by an F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) team from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Maryland) with support equipment and two F-35B developmental flight test aircraft from the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23).

“Italy is a critically important Cooperative Program Partner in the F-35 enterprise,” Andrew Maack, F-35 Pax River ITF chief test engineer and site director, said in a statement.

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