The first Italian-assembled F-35A Lightning II took off on its maiden flight, making the type’s European debut from Cameri AB, Italy, on Sept. 7, Lockheed Martin announced. “The first flight of AL-1 is a monumental achievement thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed Martin teammates,” company F-35 Manager Lorraine Martin said in a release. The Italian air force’s Cameri final assembly and check out facility completed work on AL-1 in March, and will soon turn out F-35As for the Italian and Dutch air forces, and F-35Bs for the Italian navy. “As expected, the jet performed exceptionally well and without any surprises,” added company test pilot Bill Gigliotti. In addition to assembling F-35s, the government owned and industry operated Cameri facility plans to produce 835 full wing sets for Italian and international F-35s. The Lightning II will replace Italy’s AV-8B Harrier, AMX Ghibli, and Panavia Tornado IDS/ECR fleets.
Robins Air Force Base, Ga., has completed two environmental reviews, clearing the way for new construction to support the bases four new missions sets, which will replace the E-8 Joint STARS mission that has defined the base for decades.