By Giovanni de Briganti
PARIS — If it goes through with its decision not to buy any additional Lockheed F-35 fighters, Italy stands to save as much as $13 billion which it could use, like Germany, to buy additional Eurofighters to replace its Tornado strike aircraft and still have money left over to spend on the welfare programs that are the priority of its new government.
Elisabetta Trenta, the new defense minister who took office in June, said during an interview broadcast by “La 7” television (in Italian) on July 6 that “Certainly, we won’t buy any more F-35s – I can guarantee that, and I am emphasizing it now because some people have written the opposite.”
However, Trenta also said Italy was “assessing what to do regarding the contracts already in place,” and evaluating whether to maintain its orders or to stretch them out over a longer period. Italy will weigh the program’s benefits in terms of technology, employment and turnover before coming to a decision, “because it could cost us more to cancel than to continue.”