F-35 Program, here are all records achieved by Italy

Italian Air Force F35 milestones
F-35 makes first ever transatlantic flight. This record was obtained by the Italian Air Force in
February 2016.

While the global F-35 program continues to mark important milestones, Italy is confirmed as the user who has achieved the greatest number of firsts with Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation aircraft.

Italy was one of the first countries to trust the F-35 project. It joined the Joint Strike Fighter Program in 1998 when the government allocated funds to take part in the Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP). This participation was then consolidated in 2009 following the approval for the acquisition of the aircraft and the construction of a FACO (Final Assembly and Check Out) by the Italian Parliament.

Since then, Italy's growing involvement in the program has led the nation to reach several milestones such as the first flight of the first aircraft assembled outside the United States (September 2015), the first transatlantic flight (February 2016) and the first country to having activated a JSF base outside the United States (December 2016).

The Italian Air Force was the first armed force in Europe to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with the Lightnening II (November 2018). In 2019 it then first deployed a fifth generation aircraft in the NATO Air Policing mission, as well as being the first armed force to perform an "Alpha scramble" with the F-35 as part of the same operation (July 2020).

The last record achieved by Italy dates back to November 2020 when the Italian Air Force conducted a training mission with an F-35A and an F-35B in "beast mode" configuration (ie equipped with external and internal armament at maximum weight and deterrence). The Italian Air Force is currently the only service in the world to employ both variants (A and B) of the type. The ITAF has currently taken charge of 13 F-35A and 1 F-35B aircraft, they are all assigned to the 32° Stormo (32nd Wing) at Amendola AFB, southern Italy. Three F-35As are stationed in Luke AFB, United States, for pilot training.

The F-35 is also operated in Italy by the Italian Navy (STOVL variant), which to date has received three aircraft. The FACO at Cameri, northern Italy, rolled out the first Lightening II for the Italian Navy (BL-1) in May 2017 as the first F-35B assembled outside the United States.

Italian Air Force F35 milestones

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Italian Air Force

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