Italy’s defense procurement spending stands at €4.69 billion this year, a slight drop on the €4.72 billion spent last year, new government budget figures revealed.
The figures are contained in Italy’s 2017 defense budget, which was released this month, months later than its usual May release date.
In a year when Rome has come under fire from the Trump administration for not achieving the NATO defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP, the new budget suggests Italy will not make the target for some time to come.
The procurement total is made up of spending of €2.14 billion by the defense ministry and top-up spending of €2.55 billion by Italy’s Ministry for Economic Development, which is exclusively spent on Italian industrial defense programs.
The budget document, which has been seen by Defense News, gives figures for 2017, but also projections for 2018 and 2019, as is customary.
Ministry of Defense procurement spending is seen dropping further than rising in the next two years, down to €2.12 billion in 2018 then up to €2.16 billion in 2019.
The dip in procurement spending parallels a fall in the overall defense ministry budget, which contains the ministry’s portion of procurement spending, as well as personnel and Maintenance and Operations spending.
This year’s total is €13.21 billion, down from €13.36 billion last year. The 2017 figure contains €1.27 billion for M&O and €9.8 billion for personnel.
The document announces the kickstarting of a series of new programs, including €35 million over three years for work on the prototype of an upgraded version of Italy’s Ariete battle tank, many of which are out of service due to a shortfall in maintenance funding.
Some €2.5 million is also made available for the lease this year of a signal intelligence aircraft, a likely reference to the reported leasing of a King Air aircraft already being used to fly from Italian islands in the Mediterranean to carry out surveillance missions off Libya.
The document states a further €10.4 million will be found in 2018 and 2019 to keep the lease going, while money will be found to launch the acquisition of two SIGINT aircraft next year.
Five million euros will also be found over the next three years to fund a new jamming system for bringing down micro-UAVs, the budget states.
The document draws up a wish list of programs the military would like to launch when money becomes available, including a new light, training helicopters and aircraft for the Air Force and a special forces, ground support version of the C-27J.
Other programs on the wanted list, including the new MBDA CAMM-ER missile due to replace Italy’s Aspide missile, special forces Chinooks and a longer ranger version of the under-development Piaggio Hammerhead UAV, may yet receive funding from a separate €12.8 billion funding stream now awaiting approval from Italy’s finance ministry.
Existing programs already underway receive their annual funding, including €182.3 million for Italy’s new Landing Helicopter Dock vessel, €724 million for the F-35 program, €384.8 million to complete the acquisition of FREMM frigates and 388.7 million for new PPA vessels.
The document’s authors urge Italy’s parliament to pass a bill which would institute six year defense budgets, and which would give generals a better idea of the money they have to spend, while giving industry a more stable idea of orders to be placed. That bill, which was inspired by Italy’s 2015 defense White Paper, is currently awaiting approval in parliament.
With no extra funding next year, the document warns that Italy’s acquisition of NH90 helicopter, FREMM frigates, VBM armoured vehicles and Eurofighter aircraft could all face a slow-down.