November 1, 2017: Italy’s first F-35B Lightning II known as BL-1, a Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant assembled at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility took off for the first time.
Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot Paul “Hat” Hattendorf, flew BL-1’s first flight. During the third and final acceptance flight, Hattendorf successfully operated the jet in all STOVL modes, to include hovering over the runway.
So far, eight F-35As have been delivered from the Cameri FACO; four of those jets are now based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for international pilot training and four are at Amendola Air Base, near Foggia on the Adriatic coast.
After delivery to the MOD later this year, an Italian pilot is programmed to fly Italy’s first F-35B jet to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, early in 2018 to conduct required Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification.
Photo Caption: Sergio Marzorati