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Light aircraft carrier


The Cavour light aircraft carrier is a new flagship of the Italian Navy

Entered service 2008
Crew 451 men
Aircrew 203 men
C4I staff 140 men
Marines 325 men
Sea endurance 18 days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 244 m
Beam 39 m
Draught 8.7 m
Flight deck length 232.6 m
Flight deck width 34.5 m
Hangar deck length 134 m
Displacement, standard 22 290 tons
Displacement, full load 27 100 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed over 28 knots
Gas turbines 4 x LM2500, developing 88 000 hp
Diesel generators 6 x ?, developing 13 200 kW
Fixed wing AV-8B Harrier II Plus
Helicopters EH-101, NH-90, SH-3D
Missiles 2 x A43 Sylver VLS for 32 Aster-15 surface-to-air missiles
Artillery 2 x Oto Melara 76-mm Super Rapid guns, 3 x Oerlikon Contraves KBA 25-mm anti-aircraft guns


   The Cavour light aircraft carrier, which was originally to be called the Andrea Doria, is a new flagship of the Italian Navy. It was designed to operate V/STOL aircraft, helicopters and serve as a command center. The Cavour can also transport military personnel and vehicles.

   The Cavour was laid down in 2001 and launched in 2004. Sea trials began in 2006 and ship was commissioned in 2008. This new Italian maritime force projection ship reached full operational capability in 2009. The Cavour joined a smaller Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier in service with the Italian Navy.

   Typical air group is a mix of 20-24 V/STOL aircraft and helicopters. This aircraft carrier operates Boeing AV-8B Harrier II Plus V/STOL aircraft. In the future these will be replaced with the Lockheed Martin F-35B as soon as it becomes available. This aircraft carrier will also operate utility, anti-submarine and airborne surveillance helicopters including EH-101, NH-90 and SH-3D. The Cavour can also accommodate heavy transport helicopters.

   The runway for take off length is 183 m. The Cavour is fitted with a sky-jump ramp. A flight deck can accommodate 10-12 aircraft, 6 helicopters plus a dedicated SAR helicopter. This vessel allows flight operations up to the sea state 6.

   Command center of the Cavour will has over 150 workstations for 230 people, that will manage naval, air and amphibious operations of the Italian Navy.

   Hangar is 134 x 21 x 7.2 m and is connected to the flight deck by two elevators. There are also four smaller elevators for for ammunition and service purposes. The hangar can officially accommodate 12 helicopters or 8 aircraft. It can also accomodate up to 24 main battle tanks or 50 amphibious assault vehicles. This ship also provides accommodation for San Marco regiment of 325 marines adding amphibious assault capacity. Vessel can be also used to support peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions.

   The Cavour aircraft carrier is armed with two eight-cell vertical launch systems for 32 Aster-15 surface-to-air missiles. The Aster-15 has a range of 30 km. Other weapons include two OTO Melara 76-mm Super Rapid guns ans three Oerlikon Contraves KBA 25-mm anti-aircraft guns. Countermeasures of this aircraft carrier include two 20-barrel decoy launchers and anti-torpedo defense system.

   This aircraft carrier is powered by combined gas turbine and gas (COGAG) propulsion. It is fitted with four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, developing 22 000 hp each, locally built by FiatAvio under license. Gas turbines drive two 5-blade shafts. Maximum speed is over 28 knots. This ship has a range of 7 000 nautical mines (13 000 km) at 16 knots. There is one interesting detail that Cavour consumes 3 t of diesel per hour at cruising speed and 25 t at full speed.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Cavour (550) 2001 2004 2008

active, in service



Video of the Cavour light aircraft carrier







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