The first F-35 was delivered overseas this week in Italy, marking another milestone for Lockheed Martin’s futuristic stealth fighter.
The delivery of the F-35A Lightning II took place in Cameri, Italy, on Thursday at a final assembly and check out facility. While Italy is the sixth nation to receive an F-35, it is the first fighter to have its final assembly done in another country.
“When Leonardo DaVinci first envisioned human flight as an Italian creation, there is no way he could have imagined what we have here today,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the Pentagon’s F-35 program executive officer. “The F-35 aircraft built here in Cameri will take flight on the wings of Italian craftsmanship, ingenuity, and skill and will help build the first global fleet of fifth-generation fighters.”
There are three variants of the F-35, and the A version delivered to the Italian military — which is a shade lighter and sleeker — is the same as that being built for the U.S. Air Force.
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The facility in Cameri, while actually owned by the Italian government, is operated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and an Italian company, Alenia Aermacchi. This F-35, like others, has components from different partner countries. For example, the forward section that includes the cockpit was assembled at the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth.
This F-35, called AL-1, first rolled out of the production facility in March. Its first flight took place on Sept. 7, a month ahead of schedule. Italy’s first two pilots have begun their flight training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where the Cameri-built F-35s will be delivered next year.