Old Harriers and new choppers unleashed. Welcome aboard the Cavour aircraft carrier during "blue water ops".

On Jan. 25, along with the ambassadors of NATO members, EU, Middle East and Mediterranean partners, The Aviationist has had the opportunity to visit the Cavour aircraft carrier during “blue water ops” off Civitavecchia port.

The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to showcase one of the most important assets of the Italian Defense, one of the few European aircraft carriers that is not only important for military operations, but it is also a versatile platform that made its operative debut during the Haiti relief mission.

The Cavour symbolizes “a variety of possible uses that make it cost-effective” said Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli, future Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy.

Along with the F-35 program, the Italian Navy flagship was recently targeted by potential budget cuts as a consequence of the country’s financial crisis. However, “the AV-8B will fly until 2020, when they will be replaced by the F-35B. The MoD Di Paola has confirmed the project will continue. We don’t know how many aircraft we will get. The Air Force will get the majority, but even the Italian Navy will receive its planes” Binelli Mantelli said.

According to the Admiral, the F-35, is mainly an Air Force project, since the service needs the plane for its future. However, the Navy has joined the program and the future STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, that was removed from probation one year earlier than expected, will serve as a force multiplier and complement the capabilities of the ship, capabilities that were showed to the ambassadors, diplomats and media during a tactical event involving the AV-8B+ Harrier (both single and double seat), AW-101 and NH-90 helicopters, the San Marco Regiment special forces and the Caio Duilio, a radar-evading Anti-Air Warfare destroyer.

Giovanni Maduli took the following images for The Aviationist.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.