Efforts to halt Italy's plan to purchase 90 Joint Strike Fighters failed Wednesday. Above: An F-35C is seen at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on June 24. (Lockheed Martin)
Italy’s plan to purchase 90 Joint Strike Fighters has survived a rebellion by Italian parliamentarians seeking to halt the program.
After a motion was presented opposing the program on Wednesday, a successive and watered down motion was eventually voted through authorizing the existing orders; a parliamentary vote will be required for further purchases.
Opposition to the JSF has mounted over the program’s rising costs as the country seeks to cut government spending — particularly since February’s parliamentary elections, which saw an influx former comic Beppe Grillo’s supporters.
Grillo’s backers — allied with members of the left wing SEL party and a number of members of the center left Democratic Party — presented the motion to stop the program, but were voted down, 378 to 178.
Democratic Party leaders and the center-right People of Freedom party, which form the backbone of a coalition government, then crafted a motion calling for parliament to vote on any JSF fighter purchases — which could have little significance since Italy is unlikely to order more than the 90 jets already authorized.
That motion passed, 381 to 149. Both motions were non-binding.
The Democratic Party, which campaigned on promises to reduce JSF spending, presented its own motion calling for a vote on all purchases — including the 90 already planned — but the wording of the motion was then changed to read “further purchases” after consultations with the People of Freedom party.
After the vote, the Democratic Party was criticized as “hypocritical” by Grillo’s backers.
Defense Minister Mario Mauro said on Wednesday: “To love peace you need to arm peace, and the JSF meets this requirement.”
Italy’s JSF order was previously been cut from 131 jets to 90 to meet budget restraints.