Italy Trims F-35 Buy

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.