The Italian Air Force welcomes the first F-35A delivered outside the U.S.

The first F-35 delivered outside the U.S. was taken on charge by the Italian Air Force.

On Dec. 3, Lt. Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, Chief of the Italian Air Force, welcomed the first Italian F-35A at the F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy.

Not only is the AL-1 (as the aircraft is designated) the first F-35 for the Italian armed forces but it is also the first assembled and delivered outside the U.S.

With the delivery of its first aircraft, Italy becomes the sixth nation to receive an F-35 joining Australia, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and the U.S. that already operate the aircraft at various airbase across the United States.

The aircraft for the Italian Air Force, that made its very first flight from Cameri airbase on Sept. 7, it’s the first of eight aircraft currently being assembled at the Italian FACO that will assemble all the remaining F-35A and F-35B for the Italian Air Force and Navy, and build F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

AL-1 will be delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in 2016 (with the support of an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker, the first international tanker to refuel the JSF) where Italy’s first two pilots have recently begun F-35 flight training..

Italy is a Tier II partner in the F-35 program. So far, the Government has invested 3.5 billion USD in the program with an industrial return, in terms of contracts signed, that amounts to +1 billion USD.
That said, industrial participation in the program includes Alenia Aeronautica supplying wing sets (about 75% of Italy’s participation in the program) and other companies of the Finmeccanica group supplying work on some of those quite critical systems, including the EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System).

Despite the cuts, the program has attracted a significant chunk of Italy’s defense budget: for this reason the F-35 surely the most famous defense program in Italy. And the most controversial. So much so that it has become a very “sensitive” subject.

A large part of the public opinion, as well as many Italian lawmakers are against it, because they believe that the about 13 billion Euro for the F-35 and no significant industrial gains can’t co-exist with the country’s fragile public finances. However, as a consequence of the cuts (from 131 to 90 examples, with the “promise” to consider more cuts if needed), the assignment of the European FACO to Cameri, and a significant investment already done (Rome remains the second largest contributing partner after the UK) the Italian Government has been able to save the F-35 and ensure the Italian Air Force its 5th generation aircraft to replace the ageing (and for this reason costly) AMX and Tornado fleets, and the Navy its F-35Bs to replace the AV-8B+ Harrier jump jets.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin’s Thinh Nguyen

 

About David Cenciotti 4417 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

6 Comments

  1. How long will it take before the first unavoidable retrofit ? Apart from the F-35B to replace Italy’s aging Harriers, there’s no reasonable future for the F-35. It’s overweight, underpowered, unreliable and way to expensive to buy and to use. Why else would even the USAF consider buying some more F-15s and F-16s. And what about the Israel ? They want more top notch F-15s too. Why would they want to do that ? Just to please Boeing ? Nah !

  2. The problem is that this airplane has lot of bug that have not been fixed yet, and some is sure will be never fixed (but there are not perfect aircraft, no one).
    For now I hope to take some picture personally the next time it leaves the nest, I need to be lucky and hope that the the birds will warn me at the righ time.
    Pictures for passion and hope for the future…. as we say “hope for the future, hoping not to make a bad death”.

    I there’s a F-22 you do not need, I buy it! (I pay only a small advance)

  3. it is OK man. let them even remove the cannon if they think dogfights are a thing of the past. they wrote 30 million lines of code to destroy their enemies in simulation. that deserves some credit right?

    interesting read
    http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/169569/fearing-software-damage,-jpo-cancels-f_35-cyber-testing.html

    “The troubled F-35 recently hit another snag when, as first reported by Politico, the Joint Program Office (JPO) refused to proceed with the required cyber security tests of the F-35’s massive maintenance computer, tests needed to determine the computer system’s vulnerability to hackers. The JPO argued that such realistic hacker tests could damage the critical maintenance and logistics software, thereby disrupting flights of the approximately 100 F-35s already in service.”

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