Assembly of the first European-built F-35 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has kicked off in Italy. On June 15, Dutch Secretary of State for Defense Barbara Visser gave a symbolic start signal to the assembly of the first F-35 for the RNLAF at Cameri Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO), in northwestern Italy. 29 F-35A jets for the Royal Netherlands Air Force will be built at Cameri. For now Netherlands have only 2 of them. They were produced in the United States and on 23 of May 2016 they arrived at Leeuwarden air base after transatlantic flight.
Recently Italian factory complex already assembled some F-35A and F-35B for Italian Air Force and Italian Navy respectively. The FACO is a very large complex consisting of 22 buildings with about 93000 square meters (1 000 000 square feet) of covered workspace and 800 skilled personnel. FACO area is also housing 11 assembly stations, and five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays. The factory itself is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. It has the only F-35B production capability outside the United States. Moreover in 2014 it was chosen by the U.S. as the one and only European F-35 airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade Center for the entire European region.
37 of these planes (F-35A Lightning II CTOL, Conventional Take Off and Landing) will enter the service in RNLAF during the upcoming years.
Autor: Daniel Kasprzycki
Zdjęcie: A pair of dutch F-35, https://defensie.nl