The first Alenia Aermacchi-built wing components installed onboard an F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft underwent initial company checkout flight at Lockheed Martin‘s Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
The components were installed onboard the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, designated AF-44, which is scheduled to be handed over to the US Air Force (USAF) in late 2014.
Lockheed Martin vice-president and Italian Final Assembly and Checkout facility (FACO) general manager Debra Palmer said Alenia has demonstrated its ability to produce advanced materials for both civil and military high performance aircraft for several years.
"Its work on the F-35 Lightning II program is further confirmation of its leading role in this highly specialized aspect of aircraft manufacturing," Palmer added.
More than 800 wings and wing components are scheduled to be manufactured by Alenia under contract with Lockheed for the global F-35 aircraft fleet.
In addition to this, the company is responsible for coordination with Lockheed the assembly of all Italian F-35s manufactured at the FACO in Cameri, Novara.
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Currently under development in three variants, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.
The variants include a CTOL variant for the US and allied air forces, a short take-off and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Royal Navy and a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy.
Image: Alenia Aermacchi’s wing components installed on the F-35A CTOL aircraft. Photo: © 2012 Alenia Aermacchi – A Finmeccanica Company.