Here Is Italy’s First F-35B Lightning II Flying In Full Italian Navy Markings For The First Time Today

The F-35B MM7451 during its test flight in full Marina Militare markings (Credit: Franco Gualdoni).

The aircraft will be officially delivered to the Marina Militare next week. Today it flew for the first time in full Italian Navy markings.

On Jan. 18, the first Italian F-35B, the first short-take and vertical landing Lightning II aircraft assembled outside the US, designated BL-1, carried out a test flight in STOVL mode at Cameri airfield, home of the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility, in northwestern Italy, sporting full Italian Navy markings for the very first time.

Aviation photographer and friend Franco Gualdoni was there and took the photographs of the F-35B flying in the early afternoon sun.

The aircraft, serialled MM7451/4-01, will be taken on charge by the Marina Militare with a ceremony scheduled at the FACO on Jan. 25, 2018. After delivery, the aircraft will be transferred to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, to obtain the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification, before moving (most probably) to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina home of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B pilot training.

The aircraft, that had successfully completed its maiden flight on Oct. 24, 2017, sports a livery quite similar to the one of the Italian Navy’s AV-8B+ Harrier II of the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati: it features the wolf’s head insignia on the tail, the wolf’s paw prints on the rudder, the Italian Navy roundel and the MARINA text.

Italy plans to procure 90 F-35s: 60 F-35As for the Air Force and 30 F-35Bs for both the ItAF and Italian Navy. The Navy’s STOVL aircraft will replace the ageing Harrier jump jets at Grottaglie airbase, in southeastern Italy, and aboard the Cavour aircraft carrier.

The F-35B MM7451 during its test flight in full Marina Militare markings (Credit: Franco Gualdoni)

 

About David Cenciotti 4418 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.

11 Comments

  1. No its true that it is not a good looking plane but that’s not a beauty contest.
    I think few people know that in fact it is stealthier than the F22

      • From a general, who know better than you :
        “The F-35 is geared to go out and take down the surface targets,” says
        Hostage, leaning forward. “The F-35 doesn’t have the altitude, doesn’t
        have the speed [of the F-22], but it can beat the F-22 in stealth”

        Which make sens regarding its mission against much more powerfull ground radar…

        Always think before you talk or write…

        • Hostage is well known for having made a lot of questionable comments. If you want to believe his bluster I don’t care.
          I worked on all the Lockheed jets going back 4 decades, including ones you don’t even know about.

      • “The F-35 is geared to go out and take down the surface targets,” says
        General Mike Hostage (*), leaning forward. “The F-35 doesn’t have the altitude, doesn’t have the speed [of the F-22], but it can beat the F-22 in stealth.”
        stealth — the ability to elude or greatly complicate an enemy’s ability
        to find and destroy an aircraft using a combination of design, tactics
        and technology

        It make sens considering the mission of F35 that faces more powerfull and diverse ground radars…

        *
        United States Air Force four-star general who last served as the commander, Air Combat Command from September 13, 2011 to October 2014.

  2. Does anyone know how much the Italian or Japanese versions will cost?
    Yes i know the first ones off the line will be expensive so let’s say ,long term what’s the lowest they hope for compared to the USA figure of $80ísh million

  3. For the price of one they could get 2 typhoon tranche 3. I would have purchased just the 30 for the navy, tom replace the harriers. The Tornado can already launch 2 stealth long range cruise missile. I do not see a use case where the Italian air force will need to challenge an s300 or s400 mobile battery, where they need to find where the radar is, without being detected. That is providing such detection is possible before the f35 is targeted. If one has to avoid missiles, the Tiffie is better at that.

    • The F-35B is $122.8 million, the Eurofighter is €90 million. Converting it, that is €100 million vs €90 million, thus, you can’t buy 2 Eurofighter for the price of 1 F-35B.

      Then you have the example of Israel already bombing Syria and the Russians not even having a clue they were there.

  4. If 17 cannot launch stealth cruise missiles, very likely the f35 cannot dogfight with anything more lethal than a mosquito.

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