First F-35s and G-550 CAEW Aircraft Arrive
Early December saw the Italian Air Force receive the first examples of two new aircraft: The F-35 LIGHTNING II and the G-550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) platform.
On 12 December, the first two F-35As assembled at the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facility at Cameri were delivered to the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of 32° Stormo (Wing) Amendola air base. The wing is also responsible for operating Italy’s PREDATOR UAS fleet.
The F-35 programme is an important one for the Italian aerospace industry. Over 100 companies have so far gained U$826 million in F-35 production contracts and $24 million in engine-related awards, with total contracts over the life of the programme expected to reach $9.9 billion and over $4 billion respectively. The FACO at Cameri is one of only three such facilities worldwide, the others being the main Lockheed Martin site at Fort Worth, TX and the other in Nagota, Japan.
Also delivered in early December was the first of two modified G-550 CAEW aircraft from IAI. Equipped by Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Elta Systems division with advanced mission systems to NATO standards, including EW and ELINT systems, the second aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force in 2017. The G-550 CAEW is already operated by Israel and Singapore, and has been selected by the USN for range control missions.