May 6, 2017
Italy rolls out first F-35B assembled outside US
The aircraft, BL-1, will fly for the first time in late August and is due to be delivered to the Italian ministry of defense in November, Lockheed Martin said in a statement. An Italian pilot will then fly the jet in early 2018 to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for “Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification,” Lockheed Martin said.
It will also take a role in pilot training in the U.S., an Italian source added.
The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.
Italy has already delivered seven F-35A aircraft from its Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri in northern Italy, three of which are now flying from the Italian Air Force’s Amendola Air Force base in southern Italy. The other four are participating in pilot training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.The three now in operation have flown more than 100 hours from the base, including tanking with the Italian Air Force’s B767 tankers and sorties alongside Italian Eurofighters, M-346 jet trainers and the Air Force’s new Gulfstream Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Two more F-35As are expected to be delivered from Cameri to Amendola this year, one in July, and the other in the fourth quarter. Another milestone: an F-35A assembled at Cameri made the type’s first transatlantic crossing in February last year.