The first short take-off vertical landing Lockheed Martin F-35B assembled outside Fort Worth, Texas, rolled off the final assembly and check out (FACO) facility 5 May in Cameri, Italy.

Lockheed and Leonardo operate the Cameri FACO, owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense, which will complete full assembly of both the conventional take-off landing F-35A variant and F-35B. Leonardo also assembles wings for the F-35A at the Cameri site, as a second-source supplier to Lockheed.

Along with Cameri, Lockheed operates two other FACOs in Fort Worth and Nagoya, Japan. Cameri is the only foreign facility building the STOVL variant and will produce 30 F-35Bs and 60 F-35As for Italy, as well as 29 F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Production on the first foreign built Joint Strike Fighter began in 2015 with the F-35A in Japan.

Italy has committed to buy 90 F-35s, down from an earlier order of 135. Leonardo was slated to produce 1,215 wings before Italy reduced its buy and will now produce a minimum of 835 wings, according to Lockheed. Leonardo is producing 66 wings per year at full rate production and plans to expand to 72 wings annually.

First flight of BL-1 is scheduled for late August, with delivery to the Italian Ministry of Defence in November, according to a 5 May Lockheed release. Following flight tests, an Italian pilot will fly BL-1 to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, in early 2018 to conduct required electromagnetic environmental effects certification, Lockheed states.

The Cameri FACO has already delivered seven F-35As, with four completing international pilot training at Luke AFB, Arizona and three housed on the Adriatic coast at Amendola AB, Italy. The Italian Air Force has completed more than 100 flight hours with the F-35A at Amendola.