Tag Archives: Marina Militare

Here Is Italy’s First F-35B Lightning II Flying In Full Italian Navy Markings For The First Time Today

The aircraft will be officially delivered to the Marina Militare next week. Today it flew for the first time in full Italian Navy markings.

On Jan. 18, the first Italian F-35B, the first short-take and vertical landing Lightning II aircraft assembled outside the US, designated BL-1, carried out a test flight in STOVL mode at Cameri airfield, home of the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility, in northwestern Italy, sporting full Italian Navy markings for the very first time.

Aviation photographer and friend Franco Gualdoni was there and took the photographs of the F-35B flying in the early afternoon sun.

The aircraft, serialled MM7451/4-01, will be taken on charge by the Marina Militare with a ceremony scheduled at the FACO on Jan. 25, 2018. After delivery, the aircraft will be transferred to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, to obtain the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification, before moving (most probably) to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina home of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B pilot training.

The aircraft, that had successfully completed its maiden flight on Oct. 24, 2017, sports a livery quite similar to the one of the Italian Navy’s AV-8B+ Harrier II of the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati: it features the wolf’s head insignia on the tail, the wolf’s paw prints on the rudder, the Italian Navy roundel and the MARINA text.

Italy plans to procure 90 F-35s: 60 F-35As for the Air Force and 30 F-35Bs for both the ItAF and Italian Navy. The Navy’s STOVL aircraft will replace the ageing Harrier jump jets at Grottaglie airbase, in southeastern Italy, and aboard the Cavour aircraft carrier.

The F-35B MM7451 during its test flight in full Marina Militare markings (Credit: Franco Gualdoni)


Let’s see the flight gear that makes this helicopter’s system operator look like a Stormtrooper out of Star Wars

Let’s have a look at the flight gear of a modern combat helicopter’s crew member.

The above image was released by the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) recently.

The photo is particularly interesting as it provides the opportunity to have a look at the flight gear worn by an SH/UH-90A multi-role combat helicopter aircrew member during a mission.

Maurizio Bressan, a flight gear collector and expert, has helped us identifying the various pieces.

Flight helmet: it’s a Gentex HGU-84/P, the same used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopter crew members. In this case, it includes the Maxillofacial Shield (MFS) used to safeguard the wearer’s lower face from rotor wash, flying debris and windblast during helicopter operations, and to reduce noise in the microphone. The MFS has been introduced with the HGU-84/P recently, as it previously was only featured by the HGU-56. According to Bressan, the Italian Air Force HH-3F rescuers and operators extensively used this kind of protection during the war in Somalia, when they used the MBU-5 and MBU-12 (without the oxygen hose) to improve the quality of their comms.

Flight Suite: it looks like an American CWU-27/P.

Life Preserver:  it’s an Italian version of the LPU-21/P used by rotary wing assets since the late ’70s – mid ’80s. It contains some manually inflated air bladders.

Survival vest: it’s an Italian variant of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps SV-2B containing a HEEDS (Helicopter Emergency Egress Device), a backup oxygen cylinder that is needed to give the crew member some 3-5 minutes of air in case they need to escape the helicopter (even when upside down) underwater .

Gloves: Italian version of the nomex GS/FRP-2 with the peculiar white palms.

By the way, if you want to get more details about the Italian aircraft and helicopter aircrews’ flight gear you can find more information online on the website of the Italian Ministry of Defense.

Image credit: Italian Navy H/T to Maurizio Bressan for providing the details about the flight gear.


Italian Navy Elite team conduct disabled submarine rescue training with support of EH-101 Merlin helicopter

Italian Navy EH-101 support SPAG (Submarine Parachute Assistance Group) activities of the e Gruppo Operativo Subacquei (G.O.S.) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Divers Group).

Support of SPAG activities is among the tasks assigned to the 1° Gruppo Elicotteri, based at Luni, in northwestern Italy.


The unit is equipped with EH-101 Merlin helos. Among the variants in service with the squadron, there is also the EH-101 ASH (amphibious support helicopter) used to carry members of the SPAG team including the submarine escape specialists of the GOS (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei – Divers Operative Group) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Diver and Raider Command Group), the elite commando frogman force of the Marina Militare.


Here are some images taken by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli during a SPAG training mission of the GOS in the sea near La Spezia.


The GOS is made of  various specialists engaged in underwater activities capable to perform rescue of personnel from disabled submarines  to a depth of 300 m; mine clearance operations and port facilities defense.


Image credit: The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli


Recognized Maritime Picture, Sensor Fusion and AIS: inside the Italian Navy's new Maritime Operation Center

On Jan. 19, the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) inaugurated its new Maritime Operation Center (MOC) with a ceremony that was attended by the Minister of Defense Giampaolo di Paola, along with the Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Bruno Branciforte and the Commander in Chief of the Fleet, Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli.

The new center, located inside the complex of Santa Rosa, near Rome, where the HQ of the Commander in Chief of the Fleet (CINCNAV) is based since 1972, was designed to meet the service’s strategic concept, based on the integrated surveillance of maritime areas of interest and the projection capabilities in the maritime environment.

The new MOC brings under the same roof the Maritime Surveillance Operations Center and the Air-Sea Operation Center.

The Air-Sea Operation Center controls the assigned forces (ships, submarines, aircraft) using a complex command and control system whose core is a Maritime Command and Control Information System.

The Maritime Surveillance Operations Center collects all data required to achieve the Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) and generate a Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP). The RMP is obtained by fusing the information collected from several “sensors”, as  radars, warships, patrol aircraft and drones, as well as other national or allied command and control systems.

One of the most important sources is the coastal radar network, mainly located in southern Italy. This network is currently being upgraded with the installation of remotely-controlled next generation sensors featuring auto-tracking and ISAR (Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar) technology.

The AIS (Automatic Identification System), is also used to improve the MSA. Information is gathered by ashore AIS stations as well as by warships and patrol aircraft, both equipped with their own interrogation systems.

Information about merchant shipping is shared through the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Center (V-RMTC). The V-RMTC is a virtual network that, resorting to Internet, interconnects the operational centers of the all the navies of the countries adhering to the initiative.
This network, provides unclassified information on merchant shipping consisting of 300 tons or more units.

Although it deals with commercial traffic, the V-RMTC has had an operational engagement in Lebanon, during Operation “Leonte”, when it allowed building a Recognized Maritime Merchant Picture for Lebanon (RMMP-L).

All images by Giovanni Maduli for The Aviationist.com

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.