A Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II lands at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps
Italy’s Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II final assembly and check out (FACO) facility in Cameri has delivered eight F-35As. Lockheed Martin said four currently reside at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for international pilot training, while the other half are at an air base on the Adriatic coast. Italy’s FACO recently became one step closer to being able to deliver F-35B, the short-take-off-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) variant.
According to Lockheed Martin, Italy’s first domestically assembled F-35B has recently taken its maiden flight. The first flight occurred Oct. 25. It wasn’t until Monday, during the third and final acceptance flight, that the aircraft successfully operated in STOVL modes.
The Ministry of Defense expects to take delivery of an F-35B before the end of the year. Early next year, an Italian pilot is scheduled to fly the country’s first F-35B to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. While there, the aircraft would undergo required electromagnetic environmental effects certification.
Italy is one of the 14 countries participating in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II program. Home to one of three F-35 FACOs in the world, Italy is set to receive $15.8 billion in economic benefits, according to Lockheed Martin.