At Least Two Dozen Swiss F-35A Jets Will Be Produced In Italy

Swiss Air Force F-35
An Italian Air Force F-35A. (Image credit: Author)

The Swiss Air Force has announced at least 24 out of 36 F-35As will be manufactured at the Cameri FACO (Final Assembly and Check Out).

As announced on Jun. 30, 2021, the Swiss Air Force has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II as the replacement for F-5 Tiger and F/A-18C/D Hornet jets currently in service. After a long and quite controversial Air2030 program, the Federal Council has eventually decided to procure 36 F-35A stealth aircraft (along with 5 Patriot fire units from the Raytheon).

The Swiss Federal Council based its decision on the extensive technical evaluation, which included four candidates for a new fighter aircraft (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Boeing Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35) and the F-35 achieved the highest overall benefit and at the same time the lowest overall costs. You can find all the details about the metrics used to evaluate all the contenders in this report we posted last year.

After the selection was announced, this Author commented: “It’s not clear where the Swiss F-35 jets will be assembled: Cameri FACO (Final Assembly and Check Out) facility in northwestern Italy, where Italian and Dutch F-35s are assembled is quite close to Switzerland.”

Italy’s FACO facility was the first fully-operational international F-35 production site. The second is located in Nagoya, Japan. Italy delivered the first internationally-built F-35 in December 2015. Italy participated in the F-35 program from the start achieving several milestones with the 5th generation aircraft that we have reported here at The Aviationist (among them, the Italian Air Force was the first to carry out a transatlantic crossing; the first in Europe to achieve Initial Operational Capability; the first to deploy the jet under NATO command).

Lockheed Martin produces the first 8 aircraft at its production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. These aircraft will be used for the initial training of Swiss pilots in the U.S.

The Swiss Air Force has announced on Mar. 24, 2022, that Switzerland has come to an agreement with the US government and has stipulated that up to 28 of the 36 aircraft in total will be produced in Italy by the Leonardo company. That means at least 24 aircraft will be made in Italy. For four aircraft, Lockheed Martin, as the manufacturer of the F-35A, is currently clarifying whether they can be finally assembled as part of an offset project at RUAG in Switzerland; if this is not possible, they will also be produced in Cameri.

File photo of an Italian Air Force F-35A at Keflavik, in Iceland. (Image credit: Author)

Two Italian Air Force F-35A jets of the Italian Air Force have deployed to Emmen Air Base, Switzerland on Mar. 18 and will remain there until Mar. 25 to take part in the presentations to the authorities and Parliament delegates of the future Swiss defense systems.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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 five books and contributed to many more ones.