|I just came across this article:
Italy plans mixed fleet of JSFs
Italy has decided to operate a mixed fleet of conventional and short take-off and vertical landing (CTOL/STOVL) Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, says Rear Adm Steven Enewold, JSF programme executive officer, writes Graham Warwick.
Rome had planned to acquire STOVL F-35Bs to replace its Alenia/Embraer AMXs and Boeing AV-8B Harrier IIs, but now plans to acquire a mixed fleet that would also replace some of its Panavia Tornados. The decision could increase Italy's JSF requirement from 130 aircraft to 200 and strengthen its discussions with the USA on establishing a final-assembly and checkout line.
The UK is also conducting another analysis of the F-35C carrier variant (CV) for operation from its future aircraft carriers, having previously selected the STOVL variant. New US Air Force chief of staff Gen Michael Moseley has meanwhile reconfirmed the service's interest in the STOVL JSF as well as the CTOL F-35A, says Enewold.
For the UK, Lockheed is studying a rolling vertical landing capability that would allow the STOVL aircraft to return with a heavier load. "If we can get 40-50kt [70-90km/h] lift over the wing we get more bringback," says Enewold. This could also interest the USAF, which "does not have a vertical landing requirement". The air force also wants to put an internal gun - currently only in the F-35A - back in the F-35B.
The UK"s analysis of the STOVL and CV variants is tied to a decision next year on the size of its future carriers, but Enewold warns: "The CV is the least mature of the variants. We have provided the best information available, but there is more uncertainty with the CV." Lockheed has just begun laying out the F-35C"s design and has recently increased wing area by 3.7m2 (40ft2) to cut approach speed.
Source: Flight International