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Italy won't buy more than 90 F-35 jets says defense minister

Gov't looking to slash defense budget to save money

18 March, 16:54
Italy won't buy more than 90 F-35 jets says defense minister (ANSA) - Rome, March 18 - Italy will not purchase any more F-35 fighter jets above those it has already committed to buy, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told the Senate and Lower House defense committees on Tuesday.

"The commitment not to acquire ulterior F35s has been kept", Pinotti told parliamentarians.

Premier Matteo Renzi on Sunday stated that Italy is reviewing its defense spending in order to free up cash for higher priority social items.

This could include three billion euros in potential savings if the government decides to trim its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets' budget of about 11.8 billion euros over 45 years beginning in 2015.

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

Italy in 2012 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.

Pinotti has also said that as many as 385 military barracks could be sold to cut costs. Also on Tuesday, Transportation Minister Maurizio Lupi declined to comment on a possible sale of Italy's 30-year-old Garibaldi aircraft carrier.

"It hasn't been mentioned and we've never discussed it. I have nothing to say", the minister told RTL 102.5 radio station.