The first F-35 Lightning II from the assembly line in Italy (Image © Larry Bramblett / Lockheed Martin)

First F-35 rolls off Italian production line

The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to be produced in Italy, rolled out of the Alenia Aermacchi Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri in northern Italy on Thursday 12 March. It marks the first time a F-35 is produced anywhere other than the Lockheed Martin production plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

The facility in Cameri cost 1 billion USD to built an also produces F-35 wings. Italy is one of the key partners in the F-35 project, with the country at first wanting to order 131 aircraft. This number fell to 90 last year, with a further reduction not unlikely. The factory in Cameri is set to also produce aircraft for other nations, such as the Netherlands, which has 37 on order, of which 35 are still to be produced. The line will produce both F-35A and F-35B variants.

The Cameri facility offers work to 750 people and measures 90,000 square meters of working space, devided over 22 buildings. It is currently in the process of manufacturing the first eight Italian aircraft, plus wings for Lockheed Martin in the US. The first full F-35A wing section was recently completed and will soon be shipped to Fort Worth for final assembly.

Cameri will also become the major F-35 maintenance hub in Europe, with heavy engine maintenance scheduled to take place in Turkey and additional capability offered by Norway and the Netherlands.

All 130 F-35s built up until now, came to life in Fort Worth. They include aircraft for the US, UK, the Netherlands and Australia. The first Norwegian aircraft is also being produced at the time of writing.  Combined, the F-35 fleet accumulated 28,500 flight hours. In Italy, the type replaces the Panavia Tornado, AMX and AV-8B Harrier.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The F-35 in Italy (Image © Larry Bramblett / Lockheed Martin)

(Image © Lockheed Martin photo Larry Bramblett)
The F-35 in Italy (Image © Larry Bramblett / Lockheed Martin)