On June 13, at 12.13 p.m., the Italian Navy’s second F-35B aircraft (registration 4-02) took off from the F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri (Province of Novara) on its way to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in South Carolina where, together with the first aircraft (4-01), it will support the training of Italian pilots and technicians who will operate the F-35B.
This aircraft line is made up of latest generation aircraft intended to replace the AV8B PLUS (Harrier), in order to maintain the power projection capacity at sea, and from the sea, centered on the aircraft carrier ‘Cavour,’ in support of Italy’s international missions.
Under the command of Lt. Comdr. Giambattista Molteni, an Italian Navy test pilot, who took turns with Captain Emiliano Battistelli, both serving at the Experimental Flight Center of the Air Force of Pratica di Mare, aircraft 4-02 flew to the United States escorted by a "package" of Air Force assets consisting of a Eurofighter F-2000A fighter, a KC-767 tanker and a C-130J for search and rescue.
Before arriving at Beaufort, the aircraft made intermediate stops at Keflavik (Iceland) and at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, and arrived at its destination on Monday 17 June at 1830 Italian time.
Before leaving Cameri, the commander of Italy’s Naval Aviation, Rear-Admiral Placido Torresi, handed over to LtCdr Molteni an Italian Navy flag which, as usual, accompanied the aircraft during the transatlantic crossing.
The third F-35B aircraft, already at an advanced stage of construction at Cameri, will also be transferred to MCAS Beaufort to support the training of Italian personnel on F-35B; the current program provides for its first flights to be carried out in the late summer, with delivery to follow in the autumn.
The initial training program for Italian personnel in the United States will include, beginning in July, approximately 18 months of flight and maintenance activities with the support of US Marine personnel.