Military Embedded Systems

Italy's F-35A makes JSF program's first European flight


September 08, 2015

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

Italy's F-35A makes JSF program's first European flight

CAMERI AIR BASE, Italy. Italy's first F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), dubbed AL-1 and assembled at the Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Italy, flew for the first time today over Europe -- marking this as the program’s first-ever F-35 flight outside the United States.

Piloted by Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot Bill “Gigs” Gigliotti, the jet's flight time was took 1 hour and 22 minutes. “As expected, the jet performed exceptionally well and without any surprises,” Gigliotti said.

The Cameri FACO is owned by the Italian government and operated by experts at Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi in association with Lockheed Martin. F-35 production operations at Cameri FACO began in July 2013 and rolled out the AL-1 in March this year. AL-1’s official delivery to Italy is expected by the end of the year. The facility personnel will assemble both Italy’s F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant and the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant, and is expected to assemble the Royal Netherlands air force’s F-35A aircraft in the future. The F-35A and F-35B will replace Italian air force and Italian navy AV-8 Harriers, Panavia Tornados, and AMX fighters.

Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi also manufactures the F-35A’s full wing-sets. The work contracted to Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, a co-supplier of F-35A full wing assemblies, is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Italian F-35 program, with 835 full wing assemblies planned. Finmeccanica participates in the F-35 program also with Selex ES, which is responsible for various onboard electronics.

The F-35 Lightning II, a 5th generation fighter, marries advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.

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