10 May 2017

Italy rolls out first F-35B built outside US

The Italian Ministry of Defence with industry partner Leonardo and Lockheed Martin have rolled out the first F-35B Short Take-off/Vertical Landing version built outside of the US.

Delivery of the aircraft is anticipated for November, with the first flight due in August.

The Italian FACO is owned by the Italian MOD and run by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin. Some 800 skilled personnel work at the facility, and are currently engaged in assembly of the Conventional Take-off/Landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and F-35A wing production.

Doug Wilhelm, Lockheed Martin F-35 Program Management vice president, said of the milestone: “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.

“Italian industry has participated in the design of the F-35 and Italian industry made components fly on every production F-35 built to date.”

The F-35B will be joined by two Italian F-35A aircraft, due to be delivered from Cameri in July with the second later in the year. Cameri FACO has built seven F-35As to date. The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.

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 US Department of Defense selected the FACO 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.


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