Deputy Chief of Staff Operations



RDML Francesco Covella is Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, assuming this duty on 21 September 2015.

RDML Covella is a 1984 graduate of the Italian Naval Academy and native of Ravenna, northern-east side of Italy. He holds a bachelor degree in Naval Science from the Italian Naval Academy in Livorno; a bachelor degree in International and Diplomatic Science from the University of Trieste. He graduated from the Staff Officer course at the Italian Naval War College, Livorno and from the Naval Command College, class of 2006, at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI.

 RDML Covella attended the US Navy Flight Training School at NAS Whiting Field, Florida and, as UH-1N ASW helicopter pilot, served as Flight Detachment Commander on FF Alpino (F-581) and FFG Aliseo (F-574), deploying in the Adriatic sea for NATO operation "Sharp Guard”.

He attended the Transition Strike Jet program at NAS Meridian, MS and at MCAS Cherry Point, NC for the AV-8B+ Harrier II. After that he served as exchange pilot with VMA 542. Upon returning to Italy he served as Executive Officer then as Commanding Officer of the Italian Navy "Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati” (AV-8B+ Squadron) in NAS Grottaglie, participating in several cruises on Italian CVS Garibaldi (551), including NATO operation "Allied Force” (1999 - Kosovo Campaign, Adriatic Sea).

He served as Commanding Officer of OPV Vega (P404); of FFG Euro (F 575), deployed to the Gulf of Oman for US led coalition operation "Enduring Freedom”; and of Italian Naval School "Francesco Morosini” in Venice.

Ashore, he has served in the F-35 Program in two different tours at the JSF Program Office, Washington, DC, as Operational Requirement Officer, and then as National Deputy for Italy.

Promoted to Rear Admiral Lower Half (one star) rank in 2012, RDML Covella has served in the Italian Ministry of Defence – National Armament Directorate as the Italian F-35 Program Director, with responsibility for aircraft acquisition, basing and ship suitability, long term logistic support and personnel training for both the Italian Navy and the Italian Air Force.

He is married to Mrs. Cristiana Lelli, and has two children, Cecilia (25) and Tommaso (23), both studying and working in the United Kingdom.




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