By S.L. Fuller | January 28, 2018
Lockheed Martin has delivered the first F-35B Lightning II assembled outside the U.S. The manufacturer said Thursday the short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft was delivered to the Italian Ministry of Defense and assigned to the Italian Navy.
The official delivery occurred at the final assembly and check out (FACO) facility in Cameri. Leonardo operates that facility in conjunction with Lockheed Martin. It employs more than 800 people, hosting assembly of the F-35A and the F-35B, as well as F-35A wing production.
“The production of the first F-35 B-model, the most technically complex variant, here at the Italian FACO is a testament to the outstanding capability and quality of the Italian aerospace industry,” said Doug Wilhelm, Lockheed Martin F-35 program management VP. “The Cameri FACO continues to prove itself as a European F-35 center of excellence.”
Italy’s FACO is the only F-35B production site outside of the U.S. The aircraft took its first flight in Italy in October 2017. At that time, the Ministry of Defense was expecting to take delivery of the aircraft before the end of the year.
F-35B testing is currently taking place at a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina. It is conducting sloped surface vertical-landing tests as the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force team aims to expand the expeditionary envelope for the fighter.