ROME --- Italy’s defense procurement spending in 2016 is set to drop 3 percent to €4.72 billion, new budget documents reveal, although cash was found to launch a new jet trainer program and partner with France on a new missile program.
The dip, due to belt tightening as Italy struggles to escape recession, may alarm military officials, given the instability currently seen in North Africa and the renewed threat from Russia.
The spending trend, which looks set to continue for the next two years, runs contrary to a Europe-wide hike in defense spending currently underway.
Procurement funding for this year combines €2.18 billion from the Defense Ministry and a €2.54 billion top-up from the Industry Ministry, a decline on the €4.87 billion total made available last year, although the Defense Ministry funding is above the €1.95 billion initially forecast for 2016 in a provisional budget document released in December.
The latest document, which was sent to the Italian Parliament and seen by Defense News, is a three-year budget covering 2016-2018, as is customary, which indicates that Defense Ministry procurement funding is expected to drop to €1.93 billion next year and in 2018.
Italy’s ongoing purchase of F-35s is funded to the tune of €630 million. Following parliamentary votes in 2014 demanding a reduction in spending on the program, the document claims that €1 billion will be trimmed off spending between 2016 and 2019, and that spending last year was cut from €583 million to €370 million. (end of excerpt)
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