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Spending on F-35 fighter jets frozen during review

Parliament to consider trimming spending on defence programs

20 March, 12:49
Spending on F-35 fighter jets frozen during review (ANSA) - Rome, March 20 - Italy has frozen spending on its F-35 jet fighters program, pending a parliamentary review of military spending, says Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti.

Her comments during a television interview with La7 Wednesday night, came several days after Premier Matteo Renzi said that defence spending - including the budget for the F-35 program - was under review.

This could include three billion euros in potential savings for defence budgets.

The government could decide to trim its Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets' budget, which is currently about 11.8 billion euros over 45 years beginning in 2015. "Today we suspended payment of installments," on the F-35, Pinotti told the program The Barbarian Invasion.

"We are having a moratorium, pending the results of an inquiry by Parliament," she added.

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.

However, 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.

During the television program, Pinotti defended the overall F-35 purchase program, saying they are necessary to protect Italian soldiers in a dangerous world. The Lower House defence committee has been considering spending on military weaponry and Gian Piero Scanu, the Democratic Party (PD) leader in the committee, said Wednesday that significant cost savings may be found by streamlining programs.

"In recent years, nearly 70 different programs were overlapping one another without an adequate conception (plan), leading to an abnormal expenditure of more than five billion euros," he said.