Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during a press conferenceMarch 12. (Agence France-Presse)
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ROME — New Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has suggested Italy will cut its purchase of joint strike fighters as the government struggles to bring down state spending.
“We will continue with our international programs, we will continue with a strong Air Force, but that program will be revised,” Renzi told an Italian TV channel on March 16 when asked about Italy’s current plan to buy 90 F-35s.
“Over the next three years there are about €3 billion in savings to be made from defense spending. Not all of it from the F-35, but also from the reuse of barracks and the reorganization of military structures,” he said.
When asked about JSF cuts, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said, “it would be legitimate to imagine a rationalization.”
Italy has already reduced its planned JSF buy from 131 to 90 aircraft to cope with defense cuts, but Renzi, who took office last month, is struggling to find further savings in state spending as he undertakes an ambitious tax cut program.
Some members of Renzi’s party have been pushing for the program to be cut in half, with only 45 aircraft purchased.
Pinotti said she intended to push through a plan to sell off 385 underused barracks, military sites and bases in Italy. The property sell-off has been planned by successive governments but hitherto has been bogged down by red tape.
Pinotti also said she does not plan to cut particular programs until a comprehensive review of Italy’s military needs has been conducted.