Royal Netherlands F-35A, built by FACO in Italy, makes maiden flight

The Aviationist has reported that Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A built by the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) at Cameri, in northwestern Italy, made its first flight, the Aviationist said.

The Italian FACO, a 101-acre facility including 22 buildings and more than one million square feet of covered work space, housing 11 assembly stations, and five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays, is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

According to Lockheed, 800 skilled personnel are engaged in full assembly of the Conventional Take-off/Landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and is also producing 835 F-35A full wing-sets to support all customers in the program. It has the only F-35B production capability outside the United States and was selected in December 2014 as the European F-35 airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade center for the entire European region.

AN-9 (F-009) is the ninth of the Netherlands´ 37 F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) stealth jets on order. The aircraft will undertake test and acceptance flights in Italy before being delivered to the RNlAF at Leeuwarden Air Base next month. (end of excerpt)