|F-35B. Italy may drop its order down to 45 instead of 90.|
After the USA and Great Britain, Italy has been the largest investor so far in the F-35 program. Italy is such a large player in the JSF world that a good portion of F-35 assembly would happen in Italy itself.
All is not well with the Italian F-35 purchase, however. Amidst economic woes, Italy has already dropped its order of F-35s from the planned 131 down to 90. There has been some movement to cancel the Italian purchase altogether, but so far it looks like an Italian purchase is inevitable. The biggest questions remaining are "when?" and "how many?"
Italy's coalition parliament must agree to further spending on the F-35 program, pending a 6-month review of the program. Given the recent US DOT&E review of the program, Italy's review may not prove promising.
Now there is word that Italian politicians may reduce the F-35 order further down to 45 jets out of the already lowered 90. This is still a matter up for debate, and it may be a ploy to get more favorable terms from the USA and Lockheed Martin. A drop in orders would be highly reminiscent of both The Netherlands' and S. Korea's F-35 orders, reducing numbers in order to stay under budget.
|Italy may beef up its Typhoons' ground attack role instead.|
How does Italy plan on compensating for a reduced F-35 order?
Both sources said the document — which could be ready this month — would strive to make Italy invest in the multirole, ground attack version of the Eurofighter. Italy, a partner in the Lockheed Martin JSF program, has hitherto shown relatively little interest in the European plane.When Italy, the third largest JSF partner (and one of the most financially troubled), considers dropping F-35 orders in preference to the Eurofighter Typhoon, other JSF partners should take careful notice.