Italy is a major partner in the F-35 programme and is assembling two variants for its own air force and navy and also aircraft for the Netherlands. Riccardo Niccoli details the country’s F-35 story as the stealth fighter enters Italian service.
Italy signed a memorandum of agreement for its participation in the F-35 Lightning II programme as far back as 1998. In 2009, the Italian Parliament approved the future acquisition of 74 F-35As and 57 ’B aircraft and the construction at the Aeronautica Militare (AM/Italian Air Force) base at Cameri, near Milan, of a Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility. Operated in conjunction with Leonardo’s Aircraft Division, this was the first plant outside the US to assemble the Lightning II, and was also originally contracted to manufacture 1,215 wings, for Lockheed Martin production as well as Italy’s aircraft.