A first-Italian built Italian F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) jet arrived at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland on January 31 after completing a transatlantic flight from Cameri air base in northern Italy.
The aircraft, MM7451 ‘4-01’ (BL-01), was delivered to the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) and is now undergoing electromagnetic environmental effects certification for the next three months at the Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Facility on NAS Patuxent River.
The first Italian-built F-35B variant was rolled out at the factory on May 5 last year and made its first flight on October 24. The aircraft was entirely built in the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) plant in Cameri. The transfer to the US follows acceptance of the aircraft by the Italian Ministry of Defence on January 25 at Cameri.
There are two foreign F-35 final assembly lines, the other being located in Nagoya, Japan. Cameri is the only F-35B variant final assembly line outside the US and has delivered nine F-35As and one F-35B to date. Four of these are currently at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, assigned to the international pilot training programme, and five are stationed at Amendola air base in southern Italy. The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) has already exceeded 1,700 flight hours with its fleet of F-35As.
Thirty F-35Bs are planned for the Marina Militare and Aeronautica Militare, although the split is currently unclear.