Italy’s defense ministry is cutting F-35 strike fighter procurement by nearly a third, slicing Italy’s order from a total of 131 airframes to 90 aircraft. “It’s a significant reduction that is coherent with our need to reduce spending,” Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola told a joint meeting of Italy’s legislative bodies last week, reported Reuters. Italy—one of the original F-35 development partners—had intended to purchase 69 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing aircraft and 62 F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variants in 2002. This original acquisition would have cost the Italians some $19.8 billion, while the cuts will reduce that total by an estimated $6.6 billion, reported BBC. Italy’s announcement closely follows the Pentagon’s decision to postpone ordering a total of 179 aircraft between Fiscal 2013 and 2017 to allow more time for F-35 testing before significantly ramping up aircraft production. Di Paola did not specify how cuts fall on each of the variants.
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.