FACO sends the first Lockheed Martin F35A Lightning II in the Netherlands
The “Koninklijke Luchtmacht” (Royal Netherlands Air Force – RNLAF), received today 31st October 2019 at the “Vliegbasis Leeuwarden” (Leeuwarden Air Base) the first of the 5th generation multi-role fighters produced in the FACO in Cameri in Italy.
The FACO “Final Assembly and Check-Out” in Cameri, near Novara in Italy is the assembly line of the Leonardo Company of the F35 Italians and Dutch. The Division also produces full wings for aircraft assembled in U.S.A., using composite and metal structures manufactured in Foggia and Nola plants and Venegono, all Leonardo Company in Italy.
U.S. Government selected Cameri’s plant as European Regional Heavy Airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) Center.
Following the first 8 F35As, built directly on the Lockheed Martin assembly line in the USA, this is the first operational fighter of the next 38 fighters ordered by the RNLAF for a total of 46 F35 after the further order of 9 aircraft took place on 9th October 2019 by the Dutch government.
The Netherlands aims to create 3 squadrons that use the new and ultra-modern American multi-role fighter for their air defense and interventions abroad and today the Dutch Defense Minister has welcomed and presented the newcomer to an audience of 2200 guests with an overflight around 15:00 and then landing. The new F35A F-009 arrived under an escort of Elite fighter planes: a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon currently in force at RNLAF, a Hawker Hunter and a splendid Supermarine Spitfire, for the transfer flight from Cameri to Leeuwarden the F35 was accompanied by two Dutch F-16s.
The Lockheed Martin F35A Lightning II is an asset of aeronautical technique, born as a multi-role fighter and produced only as a single-seater, it has also turned out to be an omni-role airplane due to its ability to change setup without having to return to the base and performing different activities. It is produced in three versions: A with a conventional take-off, B with short or vertical take-off and C for boarding on aircraft carriers, it is powered by the powerful Pratt & Whitney F135 which allows it to reach mach 1.6 speed (about 1975kmh) and in the vertical flight version it can also use the afterburner as soon as it reaches the standard flight set-up, differently from previous vertical take-off fighter.
For the mission capabilities and the high technology that distinguishes it, directly derived from its “big brother” the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 “Raptor”, in addition to be purchased by the USAF and US Navy is also desired by many European and world aeronautics.
In fact, as of today, there are 478 models ordered/sold that have guaranteed a reduction in its purchase price of 12.8% for lot 11 to 14, bringing the price to 77 Million Dollars for lot 14 with a view to further reduction as soon as 500 ordered/sold aircraft are reached. This further reduction leads him to be the only 5th generation multi-role fighter with a lower cost than 4th generation models.
Another piece that pushes many military aeronautics to buy this aircraft is the industrial and economic activity that surrounds its production and maintenance, the FACO in Cameri, for example, will be the site of maintenance and support for many European nations that have it in fleet, while in the Netherlands many suppliers have secured contracts for decades and an increase of a few thousand new jobs for a business of 1 billion dollars.
Numbers that could increase with new customers and new purchases that, even if the contracts with Turkey are currently frozen, there are countries like Switzerland that are evaluating the F35A as the next fighter for their air defense. Switzerland has tested it in the past few months at the Payerne aerodrome and at the Meiringen Air Force Base while remaining satisfied with the performance, of course for the Swiss needs there are also candidates Rafale, Eurofighter and F-18 SuperHornet and will probably be a difficult choice for Swiss military experts.
After the Italian Air Force, the British RAF, the Belgians and the Norwegians also Denmark and now Netherlands are building the new bases of their air defense with the Lockheed Martin F35A Lightning II in its different versions, while at world level Australia, Singapore, Japan and Israel have already purchased or ordered this exceptional aircraft.
A new generation of warplanes, a new generation of air defense, a guarantee of safety for the new generations.
From Switzerland: Daniele Maiolo
Thanks Lidie Berendsen for the nice photos