Italian Navy AV8B Harrier II landing on Cavour aircraft carrier
Copyright: Raffaele Fusilli

Italian Navy trains in the Gulf of Taranto with Harriers and Cavour aircraft carrier

Naval units and aircraft from different Italian Navy bases have carried out training activities by carrying out maritime surveillance in the area of competence.

The aero-naval components of the Italian Navy belonging to the operational commands of the Naval Squadron of Brindisi, Taranto, La Spezia and Augusta have completed a training activity in the Gulf of Taranto that has engaged men and women of the Armed Force in exercises with increasing complexity.

The activities, which began on 6 March, saw the participation of the Cavour aircraft carrier with nine boarded AV8B Harrier II + fighter jets, of the Giuseppe Garibaldi helicopter carrier with the EH-101 and MH-90 helicopters, of the Durand de la Penne and Andrea Doria destroyers, the Zeffiro and Virginio Fasan frigates, the Libra and Comandante Borsini offshore patrols and the Etna fuel ship, as well as a Gulfstream CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning), some Eurofighter and Tornado combat aircraft from Italian Air Force and two AH-129 attack helicopters from Italian Army.

The exercises carried out in the field of maritime surveillance, of close cinematic maneuvers, of supplies at sea, of amphibious operations, of shooting with the artillery on board, of the pollution and of the integrated Air Defense between the fighter jets from Italian Navy and Italian Air Force have allowed maintaining and increasing the training of the crews in a scenario characterized by the presence of a conventional and asymmetric threat.

In particular, the training allowed the Cavour aircraft carrier to resume activity with the Harrier of the “Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati, allowing the pilots to carry out the “carrier qualifications” (qualifications necessary to operate from the ship’s flight deck) and to Garibaldi, in the his role as an amphibious helicopter carrier, to carry out an “helicopter assault” raid with the landing of some amphibious teams by the 1st Regiment of Brigata Marina “San Marco” with the escort of the two Italian Army Mangusta attack helicopters.

The activity carried out in the Gulf of Taranto is part of the training of aircrews and military aviation structures in order to maintain a high standard of Italian Naval Team (Squadra Navale) capacity to ensure operational readiness and tactical flexibility to fulfil, on a daily and effective basis, the country’s defence tasks  “On the sea and from the sea”, the maritime safety, the protection of national strategic interests as well as in the field of activities in favor of the community.

Cavour aircraft carrier

Delivered in 2008, Nave Cavour was developed to meet the requirements of versatility and effectiveness in a “dual-use” perspective, therefore both in the military and civil sectors to support the population during natural disasters. The ship can also take on the role of aircraft carrier, logistics and amphibious platform, command unit and hospital ship. With a 234-meter long flight deck and two 30-tonne elevators connected to the hangar, it can accommodate the short takeoff and vertical landing combat aircraft AV-8B Harrier II+ and all the helicopters of the Italian Navy fleet: AB-212, EH-101 and SH-90.
The armament consists of the SAAM-IT surface-air missile system and 76mm naval guns and has an autonomy of 7,000 miles at a speed of 16 knots (maximum speed 32 knots and 28 knots continuously).

Text: Raffaele Fusilli
Photo credits: Raffaele Fusilli, UPICOM Italian Navy