The first F-35 A Lightning II fighter built outside the US rolled out of Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Italy, Lockheed Martin said in a press release Thursday.
The roll-out marks the first F-35A assembled internationally and the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled in Italy. The aircraft, designated as AL-1, will now proceed to additional check-out activities before its anticipated first flight later this year.
The rollout exhibits the ongoing strong partnership between the Italian Ministry of Defense, industry partner Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, and Lockheed Martin. The Italian FACO is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Alenia Aermacchi in conjunction with Lockheed Martin with a current workforce of more than 750 skilled personnel engaged in F-35 aircraft and wing production.
"The Cameri FACO is currently assembling the first eight Italian F-35As and producing wings for all F-35As fleet-wide," said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program manager.
"Additionally, as the European F-35 airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade center, it will generate thousands of long-term, high-tech jobs for the Italian people for decades," he added.
The FACO will build all Italian F-35A and F-35B aircraft, is programmed to build F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force and retains the capacity to deliver to other European partners in the future. In December 2014, it was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense as the F-35 Lightning II Heavy Airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade facility for the European region.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 11 other countries. The Italian F-35As and Bs replace the legacy Panavia Tornado, AMX and AV-8B aircraft. More than 130 F-35s have been built and delivered fleet-wide and they have flown more than 28,500 flight hours.