Italy’s first F-35A Lightning II, known as AL-1 and assembled at the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility, flew for the first time on Monday, September 7, marking the program’s first-ever F-35 flight outside the USA.
Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot Bill ‘Gigs’ Gigliotti lifted off the runway at 1:05pm Central European Standard Time (CEST) for a 1 hour 22 minute check flight in AL-1 marking a historic milestone for Italy, Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi manufacturing cooperation and Lockheed Martin.
AL-1’s first flight went as planned. “As expected, the jet performed exceptionally well and without any surprises,” Gigliotti said. “I’m honored to have flown AL-1 on its maiden flight and grateful to the Cameri team for providing a great jet. We look forward to continued successes leading up to aircraft delivery later this year.”
AL-1 then made its second flight on September 9, according to Eric Schnaible,
F-35 international communications manager. “AL-1 represents the latest F-35A production standard, with the 3iR5 software, which is similar in capability to the 2B software the United States Marine Corps (USMC) recently declared combat-capable Initial Operational Capability (IOC). Now that both Lockheed Martin check-out flights have been completed at Cameri, the US government Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) pilots will complete check-out of AL-1 leading up to Italy’s official documented acceptance/ownership transfer later this year.”
The first five Italian jets assembled on the Cameri line are destined for Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, USA, where they’ll be incorporated into the international F-35A pilot training school for Italian F-35A pilots. Aircraft number six will remain in Italy, becoming the first operational F-35 to be based outside of the USA.
The Cameri FACO is owned by the Italian government and operated by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi in association with Lockheed Martin. The Cameri FACO’s F-35 production operations began in July 2013 and ‘rolled out’ Italy’s first F-35A aircraft, AL-1, in March. AL-1’s official delivery to Italy is expected by the end of the year. The facility will assemble both Italy’s F-35A conventional take-off and landing variant and the F-35B short take-off/vertical landing variant, and is planned to assemble the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s F-35A aircraft in the future. The F-35A and F-35B will replace Italian Air Force and Italian Navy AV-8 Harriers, Panavia Tornados and AMX fighters.
September 11, 2015