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United States will provide 5 additional F-35A stealth fighter aircraft to Italy

According to information released by the U.S. Department of Defense on June 11, 2020, Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $368,194,942 not-to-exceed, undefinitized contract modification (P00036) to previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm-target, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract N00019-17-C-0001. This modification provides for the procurement of five F-35A Lightning II lot 14 aircraft and associated red gear for the government of Italy.

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United States will provide 5 additional F 35A stealth fighter aircraft to Italy 925 001 Italian air force F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoons fly in formation over Italy during a training mission with U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft, July 2, 2019. (Picture source U.S. Air Force)

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (35%); Cameri, Italy (28%); El Segundo, California (15%); Warton, United Kingdom (8%); Orlando, Florida (4%); Nashua, New Hampshire (3%); Baltimore, Maryland (3%); San Diego, California (2%); various locations within the continental U.S. (1.3%) and various locations outside the continental U.S. (0.7%). Work is expected to be complete by June 2023.

The F-35 family includes the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier variant (CV). The variation between models allows military forces to achieve service-specific mission capability, while still taking advantage of the economies of scale that result from the parts and processes common to all three variants. The CTOL, STOVL, and CV all have the advanced avionics required to execute multi-role missions and the support of the F-35 sustainment technologies.

According to the official U.S. government program of record, Italy intends to procure a total of 90 F-35s. Under the current plan, Aeronautica Militare is programmed to receive 60 F-35A CTOLs and 15 F-35B STOVLs, while Marina Militare is programmed to acquire 15 F-35B STOVLs.

This new fleet of 90 F-35s would replace Italy’s 253 Panavia Tornados, AMX Fighter Bombers, and AV-8B Harriers, resulting in enhanced operational capability, streamlined logistics and maintenance, common training curriculum, and lower operating and sustainment costs. Italian F-35s are now being produced at the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri.

On September 7, 2015, AL-1, the first-ever Italian-produced F-35, took the first international flight in F-35 program history. In February 2016, AL-1 made the program's first transatlantic crossing. In December 2016, the Italian Air Force's first F-35s arrived at the first in-country base, Amendola Air Base. In October 2017, the first Italian-produced F-35B model took to the skies and was delivered to the Italian Navy in January 2018.

As of December 2016, the Italian industry has been awarded $1.35 billion in F-35 contracts. The total value of these contracts is expected to exceed $9.9 billion through the end of production. Pratt and Whitney has issued more than $29 million in engine component production contracts to Italian companies, which is expected to total more than $4 billion over the life of the program. Lockheed Martin and its partners have awarded more than 100 contracts to dozens of Italian companies.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. It is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions while also providing electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. 

The F-35A has got an internally mounted 4-barrel 25 mm cannon and 182 rounds of onboard ammunition. The F-35B and -C versions can carry an external pod with the same cannon and 220 rounds of ammunition. This external pod has stealth features. Weapons are carried in two parallel bays located in front of the landing gear. Each weapons bay is fitted with two hardpoints for carrying a range of bombs and missiles.