Saturday, November 10, 2018

Italy signals slowdown on F-35 orders

via Defense News.
 Italy will stretch out the order of F-35 fighter jets, buying six or seven of the aircraft in the next five years instead of the previously planned 10 jets, a government source told Defense News.

The decision follows a review of the program by Italy’s populist government, which took office in June and is mulling defense spending cuts to pay for social welfare programs and cover tax cuts.

The source said the plan did not envisage a reduction in orders, merely a slowdown of intake, which would leave the decision of the total F-35 purchase to a future government. Previous governments planned to buy 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs for a total of 90 aircraft.

The new government will focus on spending plans over its five-year mandate and not beyond, the source said, adding that discussions are underway with the U.S. about the change in schedule.

The decision on the slowdown keeps with Italian policy on the F-35 set out by Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta after she took office in June.

“What I would like to do is lighten the load, since we have other spending commitments in Europe. We will try to stretch out deliveries instead of cutting the order, which would reduce offsets and mean penalties,” she told Defense News at the time.

Italy has taken delivery of 10 F-35As and one F-35B. Two of the "A" models as well as the "B" model are being used for training in the U.S., while eight "A" models are now based at the Italian Air Force’s base in Amendola, southern Italy.
Story here. 

That was an amazingly slow buy and now it gets slower.  They have a total of eight jets now (in country)?  I guess the Italians are viewing this as their own pocket F-117.

The only real question is whether they buy 60 A's and 30 B's or if we see those numbers sliced by future govts.

Unless their financial situation change dramatically I don't see how they could possibly afford it.

This bears watching.

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