ROME --- The head of Italy’s association of defense firms has launched a blistering attack on the U.S. and Lockheed Martin, accusing them of breaking promises made to Italy about workshare on the F-35 program.
Guido Crosetto, the head of Italian aerospace and defense industry association AIAD, said the U.S. “had not honored promises” made since Italy joined the program, hurting Italian firms as well as threatening the livelihood of Italy’s fledgling F-35 maintenance center.
In June 2002, Italy became a Level 2 JSF partner by committing to invest $1 billion in the program’s system development and demonstration stage.
Rome currently plans to buy 90 aircraft. In return, Italy was told its workshare would likely reach around 65 percent of its investment. “Today we are at less than 20 percent,” said Crosetto.
Crosetto, who was a government defense ministry undersecretary between 2008 and 2011, said if Italy falls behind on F-35 workshare, political consequences would follow.
“Back then, I staked my reputation in parliament by talking about the jobs and technology Italy would gain through choosing the F-35 program,” he said. “How easy will it be to defend these choices in parliament now?”
Over recent years, Italy’s spending on the F-35 program has come under fire in parliament from politicians who consider the money better spent on schools and healthcare, forcing the government to agree to funding cuts. With elections possibly due this year, tensions over the program could return.
Crosetto said Italian firms had been shut out from a global competition last year for maintenance contracts on the F-35 program. (end of excerpt)
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