First Italian-made F-35 wing set enters assembly line

The composite wing set, produced by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, the first of 835 full wing assemblies planned to be delivered by the Italian aerospace company.

Lockheed Martin (Ft. Worth, TX, US) reported on May 26 that the first F-35A Lightning II composite wing set produced by Italy’s Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi (Rome) entered the F-35 production line in Fort Worth, marking a milestone for the Lockheed Martin-Alenia Aermacchi collaboration on the program.

Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi produced the full wing set at the F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy. The entry into the Electronic Mate and Assembly (EMAS) — where the forward fuselage, wing set and aft fuselage are joined — is an important production milestone for Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi’s F-35 program, exhibiting high performance on a vital part of the aircraft while demonstrating the key involvement of the Italian aerospace industry.

The work contracted to Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, a strategic co-supplier of F-35A full wing assemblies, is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Italian F-35 program, with 835 full wing assemblies planned. The Cameri FACO is owned by the Italian government and operated by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi in association with Lockheed Martin. The Cameri FACO’s F-35 production operations began in July 2013 and rolled out Italy’s first F-35A aircraft, AL-1, in March; its first flight anticipated there later this year. The FACO will assemble both Italy’s F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants and F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants, and is scheduled to assemble the Netherlands’ F-35A aircraft in the future. The F-35s will replace Italian Air Force and Italian Navy AV-8 Harriers, Panavia Tornados and AMX fighters.

“From the beginning of the program, Italian industry has influenced the aircraft's design and capabilities. Italian-made parts and components are installed in every F-35 produced,” says Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development vice president. “Italian industry will support the F-35 for more than 30 years, from production of parts and final assembly of aircraft to replacement parts and regional sustainment work.”

More than 115 production F-35s have been delivered to customers and have flown more than 33,000 flight hours, fleet-wide. F-35A aircraft AF-88, with the Alenia Aermacchi wing set, will be operated by the U.S. Air Force at Nellis AFB, NV, US, upon delivery.