First F-35B assembled outside the U.S. rolls off the line in Italy
CAMERI, Italy. Lockheed Martin has announced that the first short take-off/vertical landing version of the F-35 combat aircraft (the F-35B) ever assembled outside of the U.S. recently rolled out of its Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Italy.
The rollout came about though the partnership between the Italian Ministry of Defense, industry partner Leonardo (headquartered in Rome), and Lockheed Martin. The Italian FACO is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin; it has a current workforce of more than 800 personnel who also assemble the conventional take-off/landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and F-35A wing production.
The schedule calls for the jet to make its first flight in late August 2017, with expectations that it will be delivered to the Italian Ministry of Defense in November. After a battery of confidence flights from Cameri, an Italian pilot will fly the first F-35B jet to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Maryland) early in 2018 to conduct the required electromagnetic environmental effects certification. The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.
The Cameri FACO is set 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; it retains the capacity to deliver to other European partners in the future.