Watch U.S. F-35Bs from Naval Air Station Patuxent River Land On Italy’s Aircraft Carrier To Begin Sea Trials

Three screenshots from the Marina Militare and U.S. Navy videos of the F-35Bs aboard ITS Cavour.

Three interesting videos of the VX-23 F-35Bs landing aboard ITS Cavour aircraft carrier have just been released.

Two specially-instrumented U.S. F-35Bs belonging to VX-23 (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23) from Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River), Maryland, have landed aboard the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) flagship, ITS Cavour (CVH 550), to carry out the sea trials that will verify the compatibility between the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the 5th generation fighter aircraft and Italy’s aircraft carrier, on Mar. 1, 2021.

The aircraft, piloted by F-35B test pilot U.S. Marine Maj. Brad Leeman, the ITF test team project officer, and two other pilots attached to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) VX-23 will fly the ITF jets during the four-week trials, that along with certifying the carrier “Ready for Operations” with the new jet, represent an important step towards declaring the Initial Operation Capability (IOC) of the F-35B in the Italian Navy, expected by 2024. The pilots and aircraft are part of a test team of approximately 180 personnel from the NAS Pax River-based F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) embarked aboard the aircraft carrier that, following the sea trials will be involved in the carrier qualification of the six Italian Naval Aviators that completed their transition on the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina.

The videos released by the U.S. and Italian Navy show that the second aircraft involved in the test is the BF-05 BuNo 100505, an F-35B of VX-23 which was involved in the HMS Queen Elizabeth Westlant 18.

In fact, the latter still wears the markings applied during the campaign with the Royal Navy aircraft carrier, whereas the other aircraft, F-35B 168717/69, sports a special tail marking that celebrates the sea trials activity aboard Italy’s aircraft carrier. After the campaign off the U.S. East Coast, the ship will return to Italy where the Italian Navy is planning to perform the first flight activities with an Italian F-35B aboard ITS Cavour. The aircraft that is destined to be the first Italian Navy to land on the aircraft carrier will be the fourth F-35B built in Italy and the third to be delivered to the Navy.

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.