ROME --- Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday defended the country’s plans to buy 90 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, following recent media reports suggesting that the order would be slashed back.
“Any effort to slow or review (purchases of the F-35) I would consider harmful” for the country, Salvini told reporters in Rome.
The comments by Salvini, who leads the ruling far-right League party, follow unsourced reports at the weekend in the Italian media saying Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta was planning to slash the F-35 orders by two-thirds.
Trenta is from the populist 5-Star Movement, the League’s governing partner. 5-Star has always been critical of the F-35 purchases, saying the money could be better spent on welfare or to boost the economy, now in its third recession in a decade.
Last July, Trenta announced she was reviewing the F-35 orders, while noting that the penalties for scrapping the orders might be more costly than maintaining them.
After Salvini’s comments, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who is not a member of either party, met with Trenta to discuss the F-35. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.