ROME — Italy has received the first F-35B fighter jet to be assembled outside the U.S., which is destined to fly with the Italian Navy.
The Italian Ministry of Defense took delivery of the aircraft Thursday at Cameri Air Base, northern Italy, where the country operates an F-35 final assembly line.
The line, which is operated by Italy’s Leonardo and the American firm Lockheed Martin and employs 800, will turn out 60 F-35A and 30 F-35B aircraft, which Italy currently plans to order.
In a statement, Lockheed said that to date, nine F-35As and one F-35B have been delivered by Cameri, which is the only F-35B assembly line outside the U.S.
Four of the F-35As are being used for international pilot training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, while five are operational at Italy’s Amendola Air Base in southern Italy.
The F-35B was first rolled out at Cameri last May and was due for delivery in November 2017, making it two months late.
Last May, Lockheed said the aircraft would fly to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for “Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification.” It was expected to then join pilot training in the U.S.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.