After passing the Strait of Gibraltar, the Italian Navy carrier “Cavour” (C550) will be hosted by the strategically located Rota Naval Station, which hosts, since 2019, the Operational Headquarters running the European Union Naval Operation ATALANTA.
The Italian Navy carrier left her homeport – Taranto Naval Base – on January 28 with a 600 crew on board under the command of Captain Giancarlo Ciappina heading toward the US Atlantic coast to fulfill an important step forward towards the renewal of her strategic capacity in operating the new 5th generation Joint Strike Fighter.
In the US Naval Base in Virginia – the largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces, headquarters and home port of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Command – the Italian carrier will conduct a specific campaign, called ‘Ready For Operation’ (RFO), to be certified for the use of the F-35 Variant B – the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version, which is destined to progressively replace the aging current fleet of AV-8B Plus STOVL aircraft.
After thirty years of extraordinary service accumulated by the AV-8B Plus Sea Harrier, its replacement with the most modern and advanced 5th generation stealth JSF air platform represents a necessary change of pace to adequately cope with nowadays and future challenging scenarios, envisaging much higher risks for the safety of the naval aviators as well as for the forces and interests the F-35 is aimed to defend.
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