Italy will not buy more Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets and is considering whether to stick to the order to which it is already committed, Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta said on Friday.
According to the official U.S. government program of record, Italy’s intention was to procure a total of 90 F-35s. Under the current plan, Aeronautica Militare is programmed to receive 60 F-35A CTOLs and 15 F-35B STOVLs, while Marina Militare is programmed to acquire 15 F-35B STOVLs. In total 60 F-35A and 30 F-35B. The Italian air force has already received 10 F-35 fighters.
“We won't buy any more F-35s. We are assessing what to do regarding the contracts already in place,” Minister Trenta said, stressing that strong financial penalties could mean that “scrapping the order could cost us more than maintaining it,” Trenta said in a television interview with private broadcaster La 7.
Trenta said she saw merit in stretching out the purchases in order to free up resources for investments in European defence projects.
Several countries have signed contracts for the purchase of F-35s, such as Turkey, Israel, Norway, Japan, Netherlands, the UK and Australia.
Europe’s only f-35 final assembly and checkout facility is based in Italy. Italian company Leonardo also produces wings for F-35 partner and Foreign Military Sales nations. Under current industrial participation agreements, Leonardo will produce a minimum of 835 full wings. Leonardo was originally slated to produce 1,215 wings before Italy reduced its F-35 purchase from 131 to 90 aircraft.