Steve Scherer

f35Italy’s 5-Star Movement, led by comic Beppe Grillo, wants to scrap the country’s planned purchase of 90 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets and use the savings to help boost the struggling economy.
Eliminating the purchase of the fighter jets would save Italy a total of an estimated 10 billion euros but it would leave the Air Force and the country’s new aircraft carrier with an outdated fighter fleet.
The troubled F-35 is seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over early cost estimates, and orders for the super technological new jet have been cut during an economic crisis that has shrunk defence budgets worldwide.
Last year, Italy cut its F-35 order to 90 warplanes from the 131 it had agreed to buy more than a decade ago, a move it said would save 5 billion euros. The package also includes maintenance work for Italy’s state controlled defence technology group Finmeccanica.
The 5-Star Movement does not have enough votes in parliament to shoot down the jet purchases on its own, but political momentum against the Joint Strike Fighter is building.

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