The first Japanese F-35A Lightning II aircraft began its assembly at the Nagoya Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility.
The aircraft, designated AX-5, has officially begun the mate process, where major components of the aircraft are joined together to form the aircraft’s structure, Lockheed Martin said in a statement Tuesday.
F-35A AX-5, the first Lightning II aircraft slated to be assembled in Japan, will complete its assembly in the Electronic Mate and Assembly Station (EMAS) and roll out of the factory for delivery in 2017.
The first four Japan F-35As, aircraft AX-1 through AX-4, are in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The first, F-35A aircraft AX-1 is expected to deliver in 2016.
The remaining 38 F-35As in Japan’s Foreign Military Sale (FMS) program of record of 42 aircraft, will be assembled and delivered in country from the Nagoya FACO.
Lockheed Martin and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) are working together to complete the Nagoya facilities and install the remaining equipment and tooling required to assemble and deliver F-35A aircraft from the Japan assembly line. Lockheed is also providing technical assistance and workforce training.
Additionally, the US Department of Defense selected the Nagoya FACO in 2014 for the North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe Maintenance Repair Overhaul & and Upgrade (MROU) facility.