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Italy scraps F-35 purchase

Will Italy purchase the F-35 fighter jet ? This is more and more less likely as Italy is getting deeper into economic problems as well as political instability. And the F-35 is pricey. The question is for Lockheed if this will set a precedent and other countries cancel as well some orders. What’s happening is that Italy’s ruling coalition averted a split over a motion to scrap its purchase of 90 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets on Wednesday by agreeing to seek parliament’s approval before going ahead with further spending on the program. The awkward right-left governing bloc, formed two months ago to end a political stalemate that followed February’s deadlocked national election, risked fragmenting over a vote to pull out of the fighter program first agreed more than a decade ago. The government-backed motion passed 381 to 149, while the opposition motion in favor of abandoning the F-35 was defeated. Both motions were non-binding. The F-35 is a delicate issue for Letta’s coalition, which is struggling to manage a huge public debt and limit its budget deficit to a forecast 2.9 percent of gross domestic product this year, a fraction below the European Union’s 3 percent ceiling. Italy plans to spend 11.8 billion euros ($15.43 billion) on the jets over 45 years, starting in 2015, Mauro said on Tuesday. The deal includes maintenance contracts for state-controlled defense group Finmeccanica, as Italy’s aerospace industry is a development partner in the F-35 project and Italy has already invested about 2 billion euros in it. Last year, Italy cut its F-35 order to 90 warplanes from the 131 it had originally agreed to buy, a move it said would save 5 billion euros as it sought to reduce defense spending to shore up its accounts during the economic slump.

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