Italian Navy Aviation

The Italian Navy Aviation (Aviazione Navale) is the naval air component of the Italian Navy. Composed of around 2000 men and women and 69 aircraft and helicopters, the naval aviation represents a top niche and an enabler for the air-naval instrument.

Italian Navy Aviation
Aviazione Navale
Naval Ensign of Italy
BranchItalian Navy
TypeNaval aviation
Size2,000 personnel (2015)[1]
Part ofCommander in Chief Naval Fleet
Rear Admiral Placido Torresi
RoundelRoundel of Italy – Low Visibility – Type 1.svg Roundel of Italy – Naval Aviation.svg
A Marina Militare AV-8B Harrier II aboard Cavour


It is more commonly known as Naval Aviation as it received various official designations throughout its service and its origins date back to 1913, when it was created as the air branch of the Navy.[2] The service was then disbanded and integrated into the Italian Air Force, upon the creation of this new branch in 1937, when a law gave control of all national fixed-wing air assets to the Italian Air Force.

Having been reactivated in 1956 to operate the Navy's new shipborne helicopters entering service with the Italian frigates.[3] The ban on fixed-wing aircraft was lifted in 1989, and the Italian Navy acquired Harrier II fighters to fly from the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

In 2009, the Giuseppe Garibaldi was replaced as the flagship of the Italian navy by the new and larger aircraft carrier Cavour.

Structure and OrganisationEdit

Naval air stationsEdit

The units of the Italian Naval Aviation are homebased at three combined military / civil airfields, at which the Naval Aviation Command of the Marina Militare Italiana has operational control over the military parts, plus a small naval aviation flight based at the Pratica di Mare Air Base of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana.

  • MARISTAER Grottaglie
  • MARISTAELI Catania
    • Stazione Elicotteri Marina Catania (Catania Helicopter Naval Station) - Catania - Fontanarossa Naval Air Station, shared with the Aeroporto internazionale "Vincenzo Bellini" di Catania - Fontanarossa, the civil international airport of Catania, Sicily


  • Gruppo aerei imbarcati (Embarked Aircraft Group, based at Taranto-Grottaglie NAS and aircraft carrier Cavour) - AV/ TAV-8B+ Harrier II
  • 1º Gruppo elicotteri (1st Helicopters Group, based at Sarzana-Luni NAS) - EH101 Merlin
  • 2º Gruppo elicotteri (2nd Helicopters Group, based at Catania-Fontanarossa NAS) - AB 212 ASW
  • 3º Gruppo elicotteri (3rd Helicopters Group, based at Catania-Fontanarossa NAS) - EH101 Merlin
  • 4º Gruppo elicotteri (4th Helicopters Group, based at Taranto-Grottaglie NAS) - SH-90A, AB212ASW, Schiebel Campcopter S-100 (UAV)
  • 5º Gruppo elicotteri (5th Helicopters Group, based at Sarzana-Luni NAS) - MH/ SH-90A
  • Reparto Eliassalto (Heliborne Assault Unit, based at Sarzana-Luni and Taranto-Grottaglie NAS) - AB 212 ASW and SH-3D ASH[4]
  • Sezione Aerea (Aerial Section, HQ liaison unit, based at Pratica di Mare Air Base) - Piaggio P.180 Avanti
  • Centro Sperimentale Aeromarittimo (Air Maritime Experimental Center, based at Sarzana-Luni NAS) - EH101 Merlin, SH-90A[5]
  • 88st Gruppo Antisubmarine Warfare (based at Sigonella NAS) with mixed crews Air Force and Navy.


The Italian Navy's first F-35B Lightning en route to NAS Patuxent River
Aircraft Origin Role Version Number Notes
Fixed-wing aircraft
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II USA Fighter aircraft F-35B 2[6] Order of 15 F-35B.[6]
Boeing AV-8B Harrier II USA Strike aircraft AV-8B
Being replaced by F-35B
Piaggio P.180 Avanti Italy Utility aircraft P.180 3[6]
Agusta-Bell 212 Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter
AB.212 ASW
AB.212 NLA
Being replaced by NH90
AgustaWestland EH101 Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter
Airborne early warning and control
AW-101 MPH
AW-101 ASH
AW-101 HEW
NHIndustries NH90 Italy Maritime helicopter (ASW/ASuW)
Transport helicopter
46 ordered in total
10 ordered in total
Camcopter S-100 Austria UAV S-100 2 Delivered in 2014[7][8]
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle USA UAV 10 Delivered in 2013 [9]


  1. ^ "The Present Aviation - Marina Militare". Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  2. ^ "The Naval Aviation - History - Marina Militare". Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  3. ^ "Post War Naval Aviation - Marina Militare". Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  4. ^ "Scramble". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  5. ^ "Scramble". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i World Air Force 2014 - Flight International,, Accessed 23 November 2014
  7. ^ "The Aviationist » The Italian Navy is testing a tiny Camcopter drone from its amphibious warfare ship". The Aviationist. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Messaggio Forum". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Insitu: contract with the Italian Navy for ScanEagle UAS aircraft delivery". Retrieved 28 March 2014.