Italy mulls slashing F-35 purchases

Italy could cut its planned order of 90 F-35 fighter jets as part the country's efforts to trim its defense budget and other spending, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said late Sunday.

Renzi said that Italy would try to reduce its defense budget by $4.2 billion over the next three years by taking measures like closing barracks and cutting the F-35 purchases, according to Reuters.

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“We will continue with our international programs; we will continue with a strong air force, but that program will be revised," he said in an interview on Canale 5 television.

The threat of cuts to international orders from Italy and others risks driving the price of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter further upward. As the F-35 program has run into technical problems, it has fallen years behind schedule and well over early pricing estimates.

Other countries, like Canada, have also considered reducing F-35 purchases or scrapping the buy altogether.

Italy has already reduced its F-35 order to 90 from 131 planes. The order of 90 fighters is set to cost $16.4 billion over 45 years.