TARANTO-GROTTAGLIE AIR BASE, Italy: Members of Special Purpose-Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, or SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, visited Taranto-Grottaglie Air Base, Italy, June 28, to familiarize Italian naval aviation leaders with the MV-22 Osprey and to also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Italian naval aviation.
SP-MAGTF Crisis Response is a rotational force of approximately 500 Marines and sailors, tasked to respond to crises in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, sourced from a variety of Marine Corps units to include II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The Marines brought two Ospreys to the air base and conducted a capabilities brief and a static display of the aircraft, followed by a familiarization flight, in which Italian Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, chief of the Italian Navy; Italian Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, chief of Italian Naval Aviation; and Italian Vice Admiral Filippo Foffi, chief of the Italian Fleet, flew aboard the aircraft with Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger, Aviation Combat Element commanding officer for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response.
“Italy doesn’t currently have an aircraft that is both capable of vertical take-off and also can carry troops and cargo, so this was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the MV-22,” said Capt. Nicholas Arnold, a SP-MAGTF Crisis Response MV-22 Osprey pilot and weapons and tactics instructor. “The leadership here seemed genuinely interested in the aircraft and impressed with its capabilities.”
The Marine Corps and Italian aviators share a bond in that both services attend the U.S. Naval flight schools in Pensacola, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas. They recognized this bond during the visit, which corresponded with the 100th anniversary of Italian Naval Aviation.
“The Corps and Italian Navy have a common bond that we were able to build upon here,” Arnold, a Buffalo, N.Y. native, added. “I think that bond is important and only improves our relationship here in Italy.”