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Renzi says Italy might trim 3-bn euros, including from F-35

Other defence spending on chopping block amid spending review

17 March, 15:34
Renzi says Italy might trim 3-bn euros, including from F-35 (ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - Italy is reviewing its defence spending, including three billion euros in potential savings that could be realized if, among other things, the government decides to trim its budget for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, says Premier Matteo Renzi.

His government is aiming to slash billions from its annual budget, in order to free up cash for higher priority items, and that could include selling military barracks as well as high-cost items including the F-35 jets, Renzi told an Italian TV program Sunday night.

With a budget of about 11.8 billion euros over 45 years beginning in 2015, the F-35 project could be a big part of that, said Renzi.

"We will continue with our international programs, we will continue with a strong air force, but that program will be revised," Renzi said in an interview with TG5.

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said that as many as 385 military barracks could be sold.

The F-35 fighter jet program has been cut before.

Amid the economic crisis, in 2012 the Italian government announced plans to cut its order to 90 from the 131 originally agreed in 2002, saving the country some five billion euros.

But last July, the Italian government rejected another call to cancel the purchase altogether of the 90 F-35 fighter jets which, at an estimated $200 million per unit, are among the costliest fighter jets in the world.

Nine countries are involved in developing the F-35: Italy, Canada, the United States, Britain, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Turkey. With radar-evading technology, the F-35 has been championed for its advanced design but also heavily criticized for allegedly not meeting the criteria of modern warfare, marked more by guerilla insurgencies than airborne dogfights.

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