Italian Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta said that her country will not be buying more F-35 fighters and she is reassessing the current contract for 90 aircraft
According Reuters, the new Defense Minister for Italy Elisabetta Trenta has indicated that her country will not be buying more F-35 fighters and she is reassessing the current contract for 90 aircraft.
Trenta comes from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement which has always been critical of NATO member Italy’s order for 90 of the planes, saying the money could be better spent to boost welfare and help the sluggish economy.
However, she was cautious in saying that her government will cut the existing order as Italy may have to pay “strong financial penalties” for doing so.
Trenta also cited benefits in terms of technology and research in Italy linked to the planes, as well as jobs that would be lost.
However, Trenta said she saw merit in stretching out the purchases in order to free up resources for investments in European defense projects.
Some 5-Star officials said last year that Italy should cancel the order for the fighters altogether, but Trenta made clear she had reservations about this.
“No one is hiding the fact we have always been critical … In view of the existing contracts signed by the previous government, we are carrying out a careful assessment that exclusively considers the national interest,” she said.
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 Italiana (Italian Air Force, ItAF) is programmed to receive 60 F-35A CTOLs and 15 F-35B STOVLs, while Marina Militare Italiana (Italian Navy) 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.
The first Italian-built F-35A, AL-1, rolled out of the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in March 2015 and production continues today for Italian and Dutch aircraft.
Photo credit: Aeronautica Militare Italiana
Additional source: Lockheed Martin
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com