The U.S. government is now more open to requests from European countries to have their F-35s produced at the Italian Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, near Novara, Italy. This is what J.R. McDonald, Lockheed Martin’s head of F-35 strategy and development, told a press conference at the ILA Berlin Air Show in Germany.
Why Italy? Until now, only two F-35 partner countries — Italy and the Netherlands — were approved to have their own aircrafts built there.
- Switzerland already inquired about having most or part of its fleet built in Italy, as the Cameri facility is just a few minutes’ flying time from the Swiss border, according to Lockheed Martin.
- F-35 production capacity is 156 aircraft per year across all three of the final-assembly lines in Italy, the U.S., and Japan.
Italy’s Ghedi Air Base. Last week, the Italian Air Force 6th Wing, also known as “Red Devils,”, received the first fifth generation F-35A (AL-16) combat aircraft at the Ghedi Air Base in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.
- The AL-16 made its first flight on April 7, 2022 at the Cameri FACO facility, where the Italian and Dutch F-35s are built.
- The aircraft, which flew to Ghedi, returned to Amendola after the ceremony and will remain there while work continues at the 6th Wing.
- A second aircraft due to join the 6th Wing will be delivered in July, the Air Force has said.
The future of Italy’s Air Force. Together with the 32nd Wing, the 6th Wing will contribute to increasing the fifth generation capabilities of the Italian Air Force.
- “There is a large scale renewal underway at Ghedi to allow it to host the F-35,” an Air Force spokesman told DefenseNews. “According to plans, the base will be ready by year end — with an initial set-up — to host the new aircraft,” he added.
- In addition, Italy is planning to purchase 30 F-35Bs, to be divided between the Air Force and the Navy.