Piecing Together the Assembly Team

Le Bourget, France Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will begin standing up a final assembly and checkout facility in Japan for the F-35 strike fighter under a newly concluded contract, said Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin vice president for F-35 program integration, here on Wednesday. “I can announce to you that we are under contract for the FACO at MHI,” said O’Bryan in breaking this news following his media presentation on June 19, the third day of the 50th Paris Air Show. Final assembly of Japan’s F-35 jets will occur at this facility. It is the second foreign FACO in the F-35 program, along with the one in Italy that will load its first airplane on July 18, he said. O’Bryan told the Daily Report after his presentation that Italy’s 85 F-35s, along with the Netherlands’ 90 jets, will come together in the Italian FACO. There is also the potential for the assembly of additional nations’ F-35s at this location “should we win some of the [fighter] competitions that are out there,” he said. The Italian facility could also support F-35 sustainment activities, he said. Thus far, F-35 final assembly has occurred only at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Tex.