The first F-35A Lightning II assembled internationally was rolled out in Italy, Lockheed Martin [LMT] said on Thursday.
Final assembly of the aircraft took place at the Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility. This is the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled there. Designated AL-1, the F-35A is to continue to additional check-out activities before a first flight planned for later in 2015.
The FACO facility is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin. Over 750 personnel are engaged in F-35 aircraft and wing production in the facility.
The Cameri FACO was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense as the F-35 Lightning II heavy Airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul, and Upgrade facility for Europe in Dec. 2014.
“The Cameri FACO is truly a national crown jewel, currently assembling the first eight Italian F-35As and producing wings for all F-35As fleet-wide. 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. Lockheed Martin is proud of its relationship with Italy and values the highly-skilled Alenia Aermacchi workforce building this incredible jet,” Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program manager, said in a statement.
The FACO facility is set to construct all Italian F-35A and F-35B aircraft. It is also planned to build F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force and has the capability to deliver F-35s to other European partners in the future.
It is a 101 acre facility with 22 buildings and over one million square feet of covered work space. This contains 11 assembly stations as well as five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays.
The first F-35A full wing section was recently finished and will be shipped to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, production line for final assembly, the company said.
Italian F-35As and Bs are set to replace the Panavia Tornado, AMX and AV-8B aircraft.