The first F-35 Lightning II to have been assembled away from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth site in Texas has performed its debut flight, from Cameri air base in Italy.

Conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft AL-1 completed a 1h 22min flight on 7 September, with Lockheed test pilot Bill Gigliotti having been at the controls. “As expected, the jet performed exceptionally well and without any surprises,” he said following the sortie.

F-35A Italy AL-1 - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

Future Italian air force asset AL-1 was completed at Italy’s final assembly and check out facility (FACO) at Cameri, which was established under a cooperation agreement with the Italian government and local industry partner Alenia Aermacchi. Its debut represents “the programme’s first-ever F-35 flight outside the United States”, Lockheed notes.

Having been rolled out in March, “AL-1’s official delivery to Italy is expected by the end of the year”, the US company says.

Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records Rome as currently planning to acquire up to a combined 90 F-35As and short take-off and vertical landing B-model examples for its air force and navy. These will be completed at the Cameri FACO, along with some of the CTOL aircraft to be bought by the Netherlands.