The first two F-35Bs delivered to the Navy have returned from the USA

(To Marina Militare)

With the end of the PIA - Pooling Implementing Arrangement - signed in 2018 by the Defense and the US Marine Corps and the return flight with subsequent landing on the aircraft carrier Cavour of the first two F-35Bs delivered to the Navy (4-01 and 4-02), short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL - Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) version, another significant page was written for the Armed Forces and for the almost 110-year history of Naval Aviation and the collaboration, uninterrupted for more than 30 years, between the men and women of the Navy and the aerotactical component of the United States Marine Corps.

During the ceremony held last November 29, at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort (South Carolina - USA), in the presence of the commander of the Navy Air Forces, Rear Admiral Marco Casapieri and the commanders of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 31 and del Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501, the numerous activities, which lasted 5 years, were ideally retraced in the PIA bed and which made it possible to train the first significant number of pilots and technicians destined to operate the aircraft of 5a F-35B generation.

At the end of the ceremony, the Marine Corps also wanted to decorate a "wolf", as the pilots of the are defined Embarked Aircraft Group (GRUPAER), with the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal" for the activities carried out and the brilliant results obtained during more than 3 years of assignment to VMFAT 501.

Successful transfer flight from Beaufort to aircraft carrier flight deck Cavour, including a technical stop at the Lajes airport (Archipelago of the Azores), was the result of a close joint cooperation and coordination activity between the Navy and the Air Force. The transatlantic flight was in fact supported by a KC-767A refueling aircraft of the 14th wing of the Italian Air Force which responded to the needs of logistic transport and in-flight refueling (carried out more than 20 refuelings), by a C-130J aircraft of the 46th air brigade of Pisa and a P-72A from the 41st wing of Sigonella which ensured the activities of Search and Rescue (SAR) during the transfer route. The security framework of personnel and aircraft was ensured by a team of Fusiliers from the 3rd regiment of the San Marco marine brigade.

During the phases preceding landing on the flagship of the Navy, which took place on 16 December, the two F-35Bs returning from the USA were escorted by a formation of AV-8B+ aircraft, testifying to the important transition process underway between the 4th and 5th generation of jet aircraft the Navy is facing.

With the return of the two aircraft from the USA and with the imminent delivery of the fourth aircraft to the Navy, Naval Aviation continues on the path towards achieving the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by 2024 in the use of the 5a generation from the aircraft carrier Cavour which represents the maximum expression of ability sea-based expeditionary (ability to autonomously project the national military instrument in very distant areas to protect national interests and the collective security of the Alliance).