Italy Makes the First F-35 Transatlantic Crossing

History was made on February 5th when Italian Air Force pilot, Maj Gianmarco, completed the maiden transatlantic crossing of the first Italian-made F-35A Lightning II, a stealthy, single-engine Lockheed Martin type.


Aircraft AL-1 was also refueled en route by Italy’s own Boeing KC-767 tanker, which received F-35 tanking certification at Edwards AFB, according to FlightGlobal.com.


“The aircraft took off […] from Lajes Field on Portugal’s Azores island group at 7.30am local time before turning south over Canada to touch down at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland at about 2.24pm on 5 February – approximately 7h and more than 2,000nm later,” reported FlightGlobal.com.


Gianmarco, callsign “Ninja,” is a former Panavia Tornado pilot who graduated from the multinational F-35A pilot school at Luke AFB in Arizona in November and has accumulated 80h of flight time on the type, said FlightGlobal.com, and when he landed, he “was greeted by top generals from the Italian AF who travelled aboard the KC-767 to witness the occasion.”


“The first aircraft to cross the pond is Italian, flown by an Italian, with Italian support,” Gianmarco told reporters at the base. “I’m really proud of it because we’re not following somebody in this. We’re on the very front line.


According to FlightGlobal.com, “AL-1 will remain at NAS Patuxent River for two to three months of electromagnetic environmental effects (E3) testing before continuing on to Luke AFB to join the multinational training team.”

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