Nagoya has always been the focal point of Japan’s aviation industry. Even more focus was added to that on Tuesday 15 December with the start of the final assembly of the first Japanese built F-35 in the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya. The process should finish in 2017 with roll out of the aircraft and delivery to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).
The aircraft, designated AX-5, has officially begun the mate process, where major components of the aircraft are joined together to form the aircraft’s structure. The aircraft will in fact be the fifth to be delivered to Japan. Four more aircraft are being assembled in Lockheed Martin’s facility in Forth Worth, with the first one ready in 2016.
Japan is eyeing a total of 42 F-35ALightning IIs, with 38 of those built in Nagoya by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Additionally, the US Department of Defense selected the Nagoya FACO in 2014 for the North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe Maintenance Repair Overhaul & and Upgrade (MROU) facility.
The facility is similar to the European production line in Cameri, Italy, which is run by Alenia Aermacchi and delivered its first F-35 to the Italian Air Force recently.
Altogether, the F-35 is now produced at three final assembly lines around the world, Forth Worth in the US, Nagoya in the States and Cameri in Italy. For comparison, the F-16 was built at five locations around the globe.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: F-35 production in progress in Forth Worth. (Image © Lockheed Martin)