Jun 25, 2015

Italy Plans First F-35 Flight in October

Editor's Note: This article was corrected to clarify the process of customer F-35 acceptance flights and pilot training.
The first F-35 flight outside the US will take place in October when Italy's first F-35 begins test flights after rolling off the country's final assembly line.
After entering service with the Italian Air Force, the aircraft, AL-1, will then fly across the Atlantic in the first quarter of 2016, probably via the UK and Iceland, to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where Italian pilots will train.
Details of the pending flights emerged as activity ramped up this month at Italy's final assembly line at Cameri Air Base in northern Italy, which is owned by the Italian Defense Ministry and operated by Finmeccanica unit Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed Martin.
The facility, the only one of its kind outside the US, was designated last year to also serve as the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade hub for European- and Mediterranean-based JSFs.
In March, the first of Italy's planned 90 JSFs rolled off the line, and this month its engines were turned on for the first time.
The first six F-35As are scheduled to be delivered by October 2016, with four more in 2017, four in 2018, seven in 2019 and 13 in 2010. That is far lower than the 24 aircraft a year the line was designed to handle, a drop due to Italy's trimming of its order.

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