Just this week, the Joint Program Office F-35 confirmed that it had given the Italian Navy a clearance recommendation for the safe operation of F-35B fighter aircraft of the fifth generation on the modernized flagship aircraft carrier ITS Cavour (CVH) of the Italian Navy 550).
As determined by the F-35 Joint Program Office, an embarked team from the Patuxent River F-35 Integrated Test Force (Pax River ITF) and the Cavour crew conducted five weeks of flight tests at sea to assess how the F-35 35 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) of the Lightning II was carried out on board and around the ship and how well the F-35 air system is integrated into the carrier.
The Cavour Sea Trials included more than 115 short ski jump starts and 120 vertical landings, as well as two vertical starts. These activities were followed by countless hours of data analysis that provided information that would tell the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Italian Navy how to safely conduct F-35B operations on Cavour.
“The (ship operation bulletin) is ready. We have provided the data and recommendations for a limited envelope or sailing home envelope that will allow US Marine Corps and Italian F-35B pilots to fly training exercises aboard the ship, ”said Ron Hess, ITF Basing and Ship of the F-35 Pax River Aptitude Team Leader (BASS) aboard Cavour.
Describing the achievement as “huge”, Hess said that flight clearance and airworthiness documents “should be in place” by April to ensure a safe take-off and recovery envelope. “You don’t have to wait weeks, months and years to operate F-35B on the flight deck,” said Hess. After evaluating all of the Sea Trial test data, the limited handling for the sailing home will be followed by a full handling recommendation.
A safe and effective flight test and a successful detachment required close coordination, partnership and hard work.
“It is amazing how quickly the ITS Cavour crew and ITF team have achieved this level of synergy and integration with great professionalism and a strong shared will to achieve the ambitious goal,” said Italian Navy Captain Giancarlo Ciappina, ITS Commander Cavour. “I am very grateful to every single ITF team member and every sailor in my crew for the great work and the tremendous performance.
“In this sense, I am very proud of the success of the ITS Cavour“ Ready for Operations ”campaign: our allies will soon perceive the Italian Navy and the Italian armed forces as intensified cooperation partners, thanks to the strategic enabling that the capability of an aircraft carrier fifth generation would play a role in either certain maritime or broader joint operations, ”Ciappina said.