F-35A Lightning II with First Italian-Made Wing Set Enters Assembly Line
The first F-35A wing-set produced by Italy’s Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi entered the F-35 production line in Fort Worth, marking a milestone for the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-Alenia Aermacchi collaboration on the program.
Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi produced the full wing-set at the F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy. The entry into the Electronic Mate and Assembly (EMAS) – where the forward fuselage, wing-set and aft fuselage are joined, is an important production milestone for Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi’s F-35 program, exhibiting high performance on a vital part of the aircraft while demonstrating the key involvement of the Italian aerospace industry.
The work contracted to Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, a strategic co-supplier of F-35A full wing assemblies, is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Italian F-35 program, with 835 full wing assemblies planned. The Cameri FACO is owned by the Italian government and operated by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi in association with Lockheed Martin. The Cameri FACO’s F-35 production operations began in July 2013 and rolled out Italy’s first F-35A aircraft, AL-1, in March; its first flight anticipated there later this year. The FACO will assemble both Italy’s F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants and F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants, and is scheduled to assemble the Netherlands’ F-35A aircraft in the future. The F-35s will replace Italian Air Force and Italian Navy AV-8 Harriers, Panavia Tornados and AMX fighters.
“From the beginning of the program, Italian industry has influenced the aircraft's design and capabilities. Italian-made parts and components are installed in every F-35 produced,” said Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development vice president. “Italian industry will support the F-35 for more than 30 years, from production of parts and final assembly of aircraft to replacement parts and regional sustainment work.”
The F-35 Lightning II, a 5th generation fighter, combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ planned 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to attain service IOC in 2016 and 2018, respectively. More than 115 production F-35s have been delivered to customers and have flown more than 33,000 flight hours, fleet-wide. F-35A aircraft AF-88, with the Alenia Aermacchi wing-set, will be operated by the U.S. Air Force at Nellis AFB, Nevada, upon delivery.