The first Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing
version of the F-35, or F-35B, assembled outside the United States
rolled out of the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at
Cameri, Italy on Friday.
The Italian FACO is owned by the Italian
Ministry of Defense and operated by Leonardo, in conjunction
with Lockheed Martin, with a current workforce of more than 800
personnel engaged in full assembly of the Conventional
Take-off/Landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and F-35A wing
“Italy is not only a valued F-35 program partner
that has achieved many F-35 program ‘firsts’, but is also a
critical NATO air component force, providing advanced airpower for
the alliance for the coming decades,” said Doug Wilhelm, Lockheed
Martin F-35 Program Management vice president. “Italian
industry has participated in the design of the F-35 and Italian
industry made components fly on every production F-35 built to
BL-1’s first flight is anticipated in late
August and it is programmed to be delivered to the Italian
Ministry of Defense in November.
Two Italian F-35A
aircraft will be delivered from Cameri this year, the first by July and
the second in the fourth quarter.
To date, seven F-35As have been
delivered from the Cameri FACO; four of those jets are now based
at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for international pilot training
and three are at Amendola Air Base, near Foggio on the Adriatic
The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) has already
flown more than 100 flight hours in its Amendola-based F-35As.
After a series of confidence flights from Cameri,
an Italian pilot will fly their first F-35B jet to Naval Air
Station Patuxent River, Maryland, early in 2018 to conduct
required Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification. The
next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November
The Cameri FACO has the only F-35B production capability
outside the United States and is programmed to produce a total of
30 Italian F-35Bs and 60 Italian F-35As, along with 29 F-35As for
the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and retains the capacity to
deliver to other European partners in the future.
The Italian FACO is also producing 835 F-35A
full wing sets to support all customers in the program.
was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2014 as the F-35
Lightning II Heavy Airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and
Upgrade facility for the European region.
The 101-acre facility
includes 22 buildings and more than one million square feet of
covered work space, housing 11 assembly stations, and five
maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays.
On September 7, 2015, the first Italian-produced
F-35 built at the Cameri FACO made the first international flight
in F-35 program history, and in February 2016, the F-35A made the
program's first trans-Atlantic crossing. In December 2016, the
Italian Air Force's first F-35s arrived at the first in-country
base, Amendola AB.
distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for
the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and
AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters
for at least 11 other countries.
The Italian F-35As and Bs replace
the legacy Panavia Tornado, AMX and AV-8B aircraft.
More than 200
production F-35s have been delivered fleet-wide and have flown
more than 90,000 flight hours.
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