On 16 April, the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier Cavour left Norfolk to return to Italy, after having been cleared to operate the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter jet.
The ship had sailed to Norfolk at the end of February as part of the ‘Ready for Operations’ campaign. The U.S. Marine Corps provided the two F-35Bs used during the operation, which according to the U.S. Navy saw the aircraft involved in more than 50 flight missions in challenging weather conditions, a night session, around 120 vertical landings, 115 short take-offs with the aid of the ski jump, and two vertical take-offs.
During the operation, tiltrotor MV-22B Ospreys conducted landing qualifications on the Cavour‘s deck in order to increase interoperability between the Marine Corps and the Italian navy.
There are no plans in Italy to acquire the MV-22B, but it’s likely that the Navy want to ensure that the Italian flagship can be re-supplied during operations by the tiltrotor aircraft, which is capable of lifting up to 9 tons of materiel.