First Italian Navy F-35B Has Arrived At NAS Patuxent River After Completing Transatlantic Crossing

The first F-35B assembled outside the US has arrived at NAS Pax River, Maryland.

On Jan. 31, the first Italian Navy F-35B completed its transatlantic crossing landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

At Pax River, the aircraft, serialled MM7451/4-01 and taken on charge by the Marina Militare at the Cameri FACO on Jan. 25, 2018 will obtain the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification, before moving to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina home of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B pilot training.

The F-35B during the transatlantic crossing.
One of the two test pilots with the Italian Navy Flag in the cockpit.

The ferry flight from Cameri to the U.S. was a joint effort that saw the Italian Air Force supporting the crossing (that included a stopover in Lajes): two test pilots, one belonging to the ItAF, the other one belonging to the Navy, both serving with the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Italian Air Force Test Wing) flew the aircraft. During the navigation, the F-35B was also supported by a C-130J from the 46^ Aerobrigata (Air Brigade) from Pisa, in Oceanic SAR configuration, by a KC-767A tanker from the 14° Stormo (Wing) from Pratica di Mare, that refueled the aircraft, as well as by a two seater TF-2000A Eurofighter Typhoon belonging to the 4° Stormo from Grosseto, that chased the JSF along the way.

A TF-2000A, acting as chase plane, escorted the F-35B during the flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Image credit: Italy MoD

About David Cenciotti 4453 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.


  1. Congratulations to the Italians. Love seeing these pictures of the crossing. Thanks for posting.

  2. probably beat a PC-6. But maybe not a super cub! lol
    I heard a story..cant find anything on it link wise.
    But the pilatus pc-6 when rolled out took off in mere feet…flew over the hangar and landed the others side.

  3. Nice video, and tactically significant. For you poor Russia-boys and China-kids, I’m sorry to tell you but F-35B can punch holes in your “vaunted” A2AD strategy all around the world. Let’s let Big Chip Berke explain:

    ” “You can fly the F-35B literally anywhere. If your traditional places of operation are
    unavailable” — perhaps because Chinese missile fire cratered them, a likely tactic in a war — “the F-35B can be there.”

    By taking off in just a few hundred feet or so and landing from a vertical drop, the F-35B frees up the Marine Corps from worrying about large, obvious bases (note: or LHA/Ds). Find me 600 feet of flat surface anywhere in the world, and I can land there.” From there, the stealth F-35Bs could take out the threats keeping the carriers at bay, poking holes in that [A2AD] bubble.

    “If you’re looking at warfare two-dimensionally, you’re looking at it wrong,” Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander, said of the A2AD concept. “You don’t beat me in a boxing match ’cause your arms are longer than mine.” ”

    So for Russia, F-35Bs can land on all those islands surrounding Greece and plug up the Mediterranean, denying access to Russian naval and marine forces (pitiful as they are) in that AOR. And for China, well, think of all the little islands that can be found in the Philippines and surrounding South China Sea. So …

    Once F-35B and LR air assets, cruise missiles, etc., takes out blocking forces, defense installations, SAM sites, air bases, surface combatants, etc., U.S. Navy ships can come in and freely pound away (American and allied subs will have already attired inferior opposing naval forces). Along, of course, with the US Air Force and allied air forces as well (NATO will take part in any action in the Pacific. Allied carriers will be there).

    To close, some final words of tactical wisdom from our friend Big Chip Berke; “The implications of a fifth-generation airplane is impossible to overstate. They’re going to provide capability that nobody knows exists yet.”

    Oh we know Chip. Those of us with experience in combat aviation as well as knowledge of F-35 capabilities (and have at least half a brain) know very well! : )

  4. Good news for the F-35:

    “The military’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is about to get a new automatic technology that will prevent pilots from flying into the ground by mistake. And it’s coming about five years earlier than scheduled.

    The F-35 Joint Program Office announced this week that the aircraft will receive the automatic ground collision avoidance system, or Auto-GCAS, software that initiates an automatic recovery maneuver when “impact with the ground is imminent.” ”

    Five years early! That’s welcome news. In case you didn’t see this famous YouTube video of the system in action, here it is:

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