In 2009, aircraft carrier Garibaldi was replaced by ITS Cavour, the first unit of the Italian Navy to be classified as aircraft carrier (CV) from start. According to the Italian Navy', new operational activities require a "dual use" unit like the Cavour. This ship features high Command and Control skills, to carry out different tasks within the broad range of operations in charge of the Defense General Staff, including peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.

This aircraft carrier can operate 8 AV-8B Harrier II or JSF. She can also operate utility, anti-submarine and airborne surveillance helicopters including 12 EH-101, (fitted also for NH-90 and SH-3D). ITS Cavour can accommodate heavy transport helicopters. A typical air group would be a mix of 20 - 24 V/STOL Harriers and helicopters. The Cavour is fitted with a sky-jump ramp; the runway for takeoff is 183 m. long. The flight deck features 6 helicopter take off spots, plus one spot for SAR. This vessel allows flight operations up to a sea state 6.

Considering her features, one can describe ITS Cavour as a fourfold ship: in fact she can be an aircraft carrier, an amphibious and logistics platform, a command and control unit, and a hospital ship.

Naval Aviation Organization

Part of ITN Naval Squadron, ITN Air Forces report to the Air Force Command (COMFORAER).

Like other Operational Commands, the Air Force Command reports to the Command-in-Chief of the Naval Squadron (CINCNAV). The Command is led by an Admiral who is also Chief of the 6th Airborne Division of ITN General Staff. Comprised of around 2000 men and women and 69 aircraft and helicopters, ITN aviation represents a top niche and an enabler for the air-naval instrument.

Naval Aviation is engaged in a wide range of operations: ASW, ASuW, anti-piracy operations, missions carried out with Amphibious and Elite Forces, as well as interdiction and non-combatant evacuation operations. In line with the Italian Navy multi-role capability, helicopters are deployed to support the Italian Civil Protection Department in relief operations, the Italian Alpine and Speleological Corps in mountain regions, the Forest Wildfire Fighting Campaign, SAR and MEDEVAC operations. 

The Challenges Ahead

To meet the present-day challenges, the Italian Navy can now rely on the new Camcopter S-100 installed onboard Italian naval vessels.

These versatile unmanned air vehicles are part of the Italian Navy's vision of operational capabilities in a near future. The Campcopter has been installed onboard ITS San Giusto following a thorough feasibility study carried out by the Navy Staff, the Centro Sperimentale Aeromarittimo, and the Quarto Gruppo Elicotteri, Grottaglie, with the support of the Schiebel staff.

The Camcopter is paramount in humanitarian operations, thanks to its advanced capabilities, operational flexibility and outstanding performances that allow to detect and identify boats and intervene promptly. It can complete an entire mission automatically and with zero operator intervention, thus reducing risks for the personnel and enhancing operational capabilities of the naval instrument.