AN-9 (F-009) made its first flight today.
The first Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A built by the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) at Cameri, in northwestern Italy, made its first flight earlier today.
The Italian FACO, a 101-acre facility including 22 buildings and more than one million square feet of covered work space, housing 11 assembly stations, and five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays, is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. According to Lockheed, 800 skilled personnel are engaged in full assembly of the Conventional Take-off/Landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and is also producing 835 F-35A full wing sets to support all customers in the program. It has the only F-35B production capability outside the United States and was selected in December 2014 as the European F-35 airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade center for the entire European region.
AN-9 (F-009) is the ninth of the Netherlands’ 37 F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) stealth jets on order. The aircraft will undertake test and acceptance flights in Italy before being delivered to the RNlAF at Leeuwarden Air Base next month.
The first eight F-35As are being assembled at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility in the U.S. with two F-35s already used for testing at Edwards AFB, California, and the rest destined to Luke Air Force Base for pilot training.
29 F-35A jets for the Royal Netherlands Air Force will be built at Cameri that has already assembled the F-35As for the Italian Air Force and the first F-35Bs for the Italian Navy (out of 60 CTOL and 30 STOVL procured by the Italian MoD).
The first two Dutch F-35A aircraft, AN-1 (F-001) and AN-2 (F-002), arrived at Leeuwarden air base, in the Netherlands, at the end of the type’s first eastbound transatlantic crossing, on May 23, 2016. The two aircraft started their journey to Europe from Edwards Air Force Base, California, and crossed the Pond as “NAF 81” (then “Archer 1” and “Archer 2”) after a stopover in Patuxent River, Maryland, supported by two KDC-10s. During their brief European deployment, on Jun. 10, 2016, the two RNlAF F-35s made the type’s international airshow debut during the “Luchtmachtdagen 2016” airshow at Leeuwarden Air Base. After a short “tour” in anticipation of the type’s final arrival slated for October 2019, F-001 and F-002 returned to the U.S.