Italy’s F-35 future in doubt

On January 18, Italy’s first F-35B Lightning II MM.7451/4-01 flew from Cameri Air Base for the first time with the markings of the Marina Militare’s Gruppo Aereo applied; the numeral 4 code denotes the aircraft type. Donato Tornotti

The Aeronautica Militare officially used its F-35A Lightning IIs in a military exercise for the first time in June. Operation Lightning ran between June 8 and 15 from Rivolto Air Base. Four F-35As from Amendola Air Base’s 13° Gruppo flew six sorties a day.

However, on July 6, 2018, Italian Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta said in a television interview her country will not buy more F-35s and the government is considering whether it can safely pull out of the existing order for 90 jets altogether.

Trenta comes from the antiestablishment 5-Star Movement, which has always been very critical of the F-35 purchase. She acknowledged that given the financial penalties involved simply cancelling the nation’s order may not be an option, but, she suggested, restructuring the deal to allow deliveries over a longer timeframe may be. She further pointed out that Italy benefits in many ways in terms of technology transfer and research in Italy linked to the aircraft that are built in Cameri.