The first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter assembled outside the main US plant in Fort Worth, Texas, was completed at the F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy, on 12 March, the company said in a press statement.
The aircraft, designated AL-1, is expected to begin flight testing later this year, according to Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi in 2013 collaborated on the establishment of the F-35 FACO at the Cameri Air Base in Novara, northwest Italy. The facility cost a reported USD1 billion to set up. Italy is expected to procure and build 90 F-35s for its own air force, as well as additional F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The Pentagon in December 2014 also assigned maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) responsibilities for the F-35 air frame in Europe to Italy. The MRO capability is expected to be in place at the Cameri factory by 2018, the Pentagon said at the time.