The first F-35B built at the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility rolls out May 5. (Aeronautica Militare photo)
The first Lockheed Martin F-35B assembled outside the U.S. rolled out of the final assembly and check out (FACO) facility Friday, the manufacturer said. The short takeoff/vertical landing variant of the fighter jet was built at the Cameri, Italy, facility, the only facility that has F-35B production capability outside the U.S.
"Italy is not only a valued F-35 program partner that has achieved many F-35 program 'firsts,' but is also a critical NATO air component force, providing advanced airpower for the alliance for the coming decades," Wilhelm said. "Italian industry has participated in the design of the F-35 and Italian industry made components fly on every production F-35 built to date."
First flight for the jet is slated for late August. Delivery to the Italian Ministry of Defense is expected in November. It is planned that an Italian pilot will fly the aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, in early 2018 after a series of confidence flights from Cameri. In Maryland, required electromagnetic environmental effects citification would be performed.
The Cameri FACO facility 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 also retains the capacity to deliver to other European partners in the future.