Video: The Lockheed Martin F-35 continues to tick off production goals on its journey to ready-for-service status for the nine partner countries — including Australia — involved in its development. Today, one of the first F-35s built in Italy has flown across the Atlantic Ocean to join the F-35 training fleet in Maryland.
Image credit: Andy Wolfe, F-35 Integrated Test Team
From the F-35 press office:
The F-35A was Italian-built, Italian flown and the entire supporting flight package was made up of Italian Air Force assets: a C-130 providing logistics support, Typhoon flying chase and a KC-767 refueling aircraft.
An Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) F-35A Lightning II aircraft completed very first transatlantic Ocean crossing, arriving at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. from Cameri Air Base, Italy, on February 5 at 2:24 p.m. Eastern time.
F-35A aircraft AL-1, the first international jet fully built overseas at the Cameri Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility, was piloted across by the first Italian Air Force F-35 pilot, who completed training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, last November and had 50 hours of flight time on the F-35 Lightning II. The aircraft will begin three months of Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (EEE) evaluation and certification while at Naval Air System Command’s Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test (IBST) facility.
Aircraft AL-1 will join the F-35 international pilot training fleet at Luke AFB, Arizona in May, the first of five F-35s Italy has committed to the international training fleet there. The next group of Italian pilots will start training at Luke in March with U.S. and other foreign students in the multi-national training program.
The two-phase deployment across the North Atlantic to the U.S. required a total of 11 flight hours, enabled by an Italian Air Force KC-767 aerial refueling tanker, which refueled AL-1 seven times during the ocean crossing. AL-1 departed Cameri, near Milan, on Feb. 4 and flew the first leg of its journey with an Italian tanker and Typhoon escort aircraft to Lajes Air Base, the Azores, Portugal. After remaining overnight, AL-1, the KC-767 tanker, and Typhoon continued onward to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, landing on the afternoon of Feb. 5.