NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – An Italian Air Force F-35 completed the fighter jet’s first transatlantic crossing Friday, a historic event that kicks off a landmark year for the international program.
The aircraft, an Italian Air Force F-35A dubbed AL-1, touched down here Feb. 5 after a seven-hour flight from Lajes Air Base, Portugal. The plane, which began its journey from Cameri Air Base in Italy, on Tuesday, was scheduled to arrive here on Wednesday, but was delayed due to weather and maintenance issues.
Despite a turbulent flight with headwinds of 120 knots, the plane performed well during both legs of the journey, Major Gianmarco, whose call sign is “Ninja, ” the first Italian Air Force F-35 pilot, told reporters. The F-35, which flew with two C-130s, a Eurofighter Typhoon and two Italian tankers, required three aerial refuelings on the trip from Cameri to Lajes, and another four on the final leg, he said.