F-35: first "Full Wing" produced in Italy on the way to the US
After three years of development of the capability and productive innovation of Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, the first "Full Wing" for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft has officially left the factory in Cameri (Novara) on its 40 day consignment by ship to the United States, to be fitted as part of the final assembly of the AF088, one of the types of fighter-bombers to go into use with the US Air Force.
This first "Full Wing" is the result of the excellent production capability of the Italian aeronautical industry: the main components in fact have been produced in our country, starting with the "bulkhead", produced in the Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi factory in Nola, through the wing panels and "nacelles" in composite materials made in Foggia, down to the structural parts produced by some of our top national suppliers. The complete "Full Wing" wing section may be considered as the fundamental part of the aircraft, seeing that it comprises the central section of the fuselage with its two half wings.
In Cameri the assembly stage of the structural sub-assemblies ("Wing Carry Through" and "Outer Wing Box") is carried out, followed by installation and integration of all the hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems, including operating tests and final testing of fuel tank sealing, in order to hand over a "component", the Full Wing, ready to connect to the other segments and complete the aircraft.
The total production order envisaged for the Italian program is 835 "Full Wings", including those ordered to equip the aircraft of our own Air Force.
So the delivery of the first "Full Wing" is only the first step of a considerable, extensive and lasting production effort and an important goal for the entire JSF program, just a few days after the roll-out of the first Italian aircraft.
Exactly 3 years have now passed since March 2012, when "Cameri Interim", two buildings made available by the Italian Air Force, supplied the first pair of "Inner Wing Modules": since then, the buildings have been constructed, the assembly equipment has been ordered and installed and the assembly of the first units has been completed, not only for the production of the wings, but also the final assembly line for the aircraft.