The Italian government is planning to reduce the number of F-35 jets it will buy over the next five years from 10 to six or seven aircraft, Defence News reported citing an anonymous source. According to the media outlet, Rome will not reduce the total amount of ordered jets, but instead will leave the final decision on their fate to the next government.
The move will allow Italy to avoid or reduce contract penalties and free up some resources for the government's commitments, Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta told the media earlier.
"What I would like to do is lighten the load, since we have other spending commitments in Europe. We will try to stretch out deliveries instead of cutting the order, which would reduce offsets and mean penalties," she said.
Earlier, a member of the now-ruling Five Star party in the Italian parliament, Tatiana Basilio, vowed in 2017 that the country will scrap the contract for the delivery of F-35 warplanes. Italy intends to buy a total of 90 of the fifth-generation jets. Eight jets have already been delivered to Amendola air base, and three other are being used to train pilots in the US.