Italy took delivery of its first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II on Thursday 3 December, three months after the aircraft became the first F-35 to be built and fly outside the US. The handover took place at Cameri airfield, home to the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility operated by aviation manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi.
Representatives from F-35 program partners such as the US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia and Norway witnessed the delivery ceremony at Cameri. The purposely built Alenia Aermacchi factory accommodates both an F-35 production line and maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade facilities.
The first Italian F-35 will fly to the US this February for training purposes at Luke Air Force Base, where the first Italian pilots recently flew US-owned F-35s. A Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker will support the F-35 on the transatlantic journey, the first ever for the type. Refueling between the Lightning II and KC-767 was tested last July in the US.
Italy is now the sixth country to own the F-35, following the US, UK, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway. The latter recently received its first two aircraft and flew them to Luke for training purposes as well.
The Australian aircraft are at Luke as well, while the two Dutch F-35s are to be found at Edwards airbase for operational test and evalution (OT&E). The British Lightning IIs are at Edwards also for tests.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The first Italian built F-35 seen during its first flight in September. (Image © Lockheed Martin)