The first Italian F-35 rolls out of the hangar
The first F-35 Lightning II for the Italian Air Force has left the Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility. The "Roll-Out" took place recently at the Italian Ministry of Defence plant where Alenia Aermacchi, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, employs a highly skilled workforce of more than 750 people dedicated to the F-35 aircraft and wing production.
The AL-1, as the aircraft has been designated for Italian Air Force, is the first of eight currently being assembled in Cameri. The aircraft in CTOL (Conventional Take-Off and Landing) version ("A" meaning the version), equipped with avionics and engine, will now be subject to additional check-out activities before making its first flight later this year.
Within 2015, the aircraft will be delivered to the Italian Air Force and in 2016, along with three other fighters, will leave for the United States where it will be used for training the first Italian pilots and instructors at the USAF base in Luke, Arizona.
The FACO of Cameri, to date the only facility for the production of the fifth generation fighter outside the US, will produce all F-35A (CTOL) and F-35 (STOVL-Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft for the Italian Air Force and Navy and all the units ordered by the Netherlands. Moreover, at the end of 2014, the Italian plant was selected by the US Department of Defense as the F-35 Lightning II Heavy Airframe Maintenance Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade facility for the European region.
Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, in addition to the responsibility for assembling all aircraft for the Italian and Dutch armed forces, is second source supplier for the whole wing sections (the central part of the fuselage with the wings) for all F-35 in production. Alenia Aermacchi has participated in the design of the wing which represents about 38% of all aircraft and whose parts of components are manufactured at the Foggia and Nola (Naples) plants, respectively for the composite and metal structures. The first full F-35A wing section for the USAF was recently completed and will be soon shipped to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 production line for final assembly.