Italy Unveils First Domestically-Built F-35B Vertical Landing Jet
An Italian military production facility rolled out the first F-35B assembled outside the US. The controversial Lockheed Martin jet, which can take off from a short runway and land vertically, is already plagued by cost overruns and performance issues.
The aircraft, codenamed BL-1, was rolled out on Friday at an industrial facility in the northern Italian town of Cameri, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.
The F-35B, a variant of the F35 capable of short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL), is expected to take its maiden flight in late-August. The jet will be delivered to the Italian military in November of 2017 and, following a series of “confidence flights,” will be flown to the US Navy’s Patuxent River airbase in Maryland for required certification and crew training in early 2018.
The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in November of 2018. According to Lockheed Martin, the Italian Air Force has already flown more than 100 flight hours in its conventional F-35As.
Cameri, the only F-35B assembly line outside the US, is due to produce 30 F-35Bs for the Italian Air Force and Navy, and 60 F-35As for the Italian Air Force, as well as 29 F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.