Lockheed Martin has stressed to Jane’s the important role that Italy plays in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), as the company looks to calm fears that the country might withdraw its participation from the international programme.
The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) has a programme-of-record for 60 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As and 30 short take-off and landing (STOVL) F-35Bs (although 15 of the latter will be operated by the Italian Navy). To date, nine F-35As and one F-35B have been produced by Leonardo at the Cameri FACO and delivered to the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD). On 6 July, Reuters reported that the new Italian defence minister, Elisabetta Trenta, had told national media that she will halt orders of the F-35, noting that the money could be better spent to boost welfare and the economy.
However, in its defence of Italian participation (the country is a Tier 2 partner) in the wider programme, Lockheed Martin noted that, along with its partners, the company has awarded more than 100 contracts to Italian companies. “To date, Italian industry has secured USD1.8 billion in F-35 production contracts, and is expected to exceed USD9.9 billion over the life of the programme. In addition, engine manufacturing has resulted in USD45 million dollars in contracts to Italian companies, with a total programme value expected to exceed USD4 billion,” an official told Jane’s .
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