Italy and the Netherlands Sign Agreement for Pilot Training


2015-05-30 At the Copenhagen Symposium on Air power held in April, the head of training for the Royal Dutch Air Force focused on training for Dutch pilots as they transitioned to an all fifth generation force.

He also indicated that the bulk of their F-35s would be built in Italy.

And at the Expo Milan European Air Chiefs Conference held earlier this month, the heads of the two air forces signed a training agreement.

According to the Italian Ministry of Defence:

Aerospace capabilities belong to advanced technology sectors where Euro-Atlantic countries play the leading role, and they still represent an essential element of the European Defence System, as well as a fundamental pillar for the general, shared growth of our nations. “Italy firmly believes in the European Defence process- the Minister added- and is aware that the only way to build it isby operating together, as we did during the Italian Presidency of the EU”.

During the meeting the Italian and Dutch Air Chiefs, Generals Pasquale Preziosa and Alexander Schnitger,  signed an agreement on training activities to be held at  Galatina Flight School.

And Finmeccanica highlighted the agreement as follows:

The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Pilots will train in Italy on Finmeccanica – Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 trainers in service with the Italian Air Force.

In fact, during the European Air Chief Conference (EURAC), which yearly gathers Chiefs of Air Forces from EU Countries and currently held in Expo Milan 2015, the Chief of the Italian Air Force, Lieutenant General Pasquale Preziosa, and the Executive Commander of Koninklijke Luchtmacht (the Royal Netherlands Air Force), Lieutenant General Alexander Schnitger, signed a cooperation agreement in the field of flight training, at the presence of the Italian Ministry of Defense, Roberta Pinotti.

The agreement envisages the detachment of an instructor and two student pilots of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, to be stationed at ItAF’s Lecce-Galatina AFB Flight School, which is considered as a center of excellence as far as military pilots training is concerned.
It is the two countries’ intention that this first group of pilots represent the starting point for a fruitful cooperation to be extended for years to come. The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Pilots will follow the standard training programmes of the Italian military pilots. The training system is already acknowledged and appreciated by other countries, which have sent their personnel to train at the Lecce-Galatina school.
Recently reconfigured to catch up with operational and technological advances, thanks to the entry in service of the new Finmeccanica-Alenia’s M-346 trainers (called T-346 by the Italian Air Force), the new training programme is in fact evaluated with great interest by several air forces that plan to operate new-generation aircraft.

On another part of the Finmeccanica website progress with regard to the Italian role in the F-35 program is highlighted as well:

After three years of development of the capability and productive innovation of Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, the first “Full Wing” for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft has officially left the factory in Cameri (Novara) on its 40 day consignment by ship to the United States, to be fitted as part of the final assembly of the AF088, one of the types of fighter-bombers to go into use with the US Air Force.

This first “Full Wing” is the result of the excellent production capability of the Italian aeronautical industry: the main components in fact have been produced in our country, starting with the “bulkhead”, produced in the Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi factory in Nola, through the wing panels and “nacelles” in composite materials made in Foggia, down to the structural parts produced by some of our top national suppliers.


The complete “Full Wing” wing section may be considered as the fundamental part of the aircraft, seeing that it comprises the central section of the fuselage with its two half wings.

In Cameri the assembly stage of the structural sub-assemblies (“Wing Carry Through” and “Outer Wing Box”) is carried out, followed by installation and integration of all the hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems, including operating tests and final testing of fuel tank sealing, in order to hand over a “component”, the Full Wing, ready to connect to the other segments and complete the aircraft.

The total production order envisaged for the Italian program is 835 “Full Wings”, including those ordered to equip the aircraft of our own Air Force.

So the delivery of the first “Full Wing” is only the first step of a considerable, extensive and lasting production effort and an important goal for the entire JSF program, just a few days after the roll-out of the first Italian aircraft.

Exactly 3 years have now passed since March 2012, when “Cameri Interim”, two buildings made available by the Italian Air Force, supplied the first pair of “Inner Wing Modules”: since then, the buildings have been constructed, the assembly equipment has been ordered and installed and the assembly of the first units has been completed, not only for the production of the wings, but also the final assembly line for the aircraft.

And now that wing has been installed on an F-35 production aircraft at Fort Worth.


FORT WORTH, Texas, May 21, 2015 – The first F-35A wing-set produced by Italy’s Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi entered the F-35 production line in Fort Worth, marking a milestone for the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-Alenia Aermacchi collaboration on the program.

Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi produced the full wing-set at the F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy. The entry into the Electronic Mate and Assembly (EMAS) – where the forward fuselage, wing-set and aft fuselage are joined, is an important production milestone for Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi’s F-35 program, exhibiting high performance on a vital part of the aircraft while demonstrating the key involvement of the Italian aerospace industry.


The work contracted to Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi, a strategic co-supplier of F-35A full wing assemblies, is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Italian F-35 program, with 835 full wing assemblies planned.

The Cameri FACO is owned by the Italian government and operated by Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi in association with Lockheed Martin.

The Cameri FACO’s F-35 production operations began in July 2013 and rolled out Italy’s first F-35A aircraft, AL-1, in March; its first flight anticipated there later this year.

The FACO will assemble both Italy’s F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants and F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants, and is scheduled to assemble the Netherlands’ F-35A aircraft in the future.

The F-35s will replace Italian Air Force and Italian Navy AV-8 Harriers, Panavia Tornados and AMX fighters.

“From the beginning of the program, Italian industry has influenced the aircraft’s design and capabilities. Italian-made parts and components are installed in every F-35 produced,” said Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Business Development vice president. “Italian industry will support the F-35 for more than 30 years, from production of parts and final assembly of aircraft to replacement parts and regional sustainment work.”