500 million of the defense budget will be diverted to employment centers. Money to be found quickly because Deputy Prime Minister Luigi DI Maio wants to keep one of the electoral promises, or cut the funds to the defense department (F-35 in particular).
At the major states they are working hard to give a tangible signal of the announced cuts.
The occasion with the highest impact is the reduction of troops from operating theaters, following the partial defeat of the Islamic State. So here is the hand to the Italian contingent present in Iraq composed of 1400 units, providing a substantial reduction.
From Afghanistan, however, the withdrawal of at least 200 of the 900 soldiers deployed in Herat and Kabul is expected, which could start as early as December when the “Friuli” aircraft brigade will alternate with the “Pinerolo”.
So far, the cuts are in line with the Italian strategy of a slow and gradual exit of the military presence abroad in areas that are no longer critical.
The most painful note is recorded in the re-evaluation of the expenditure envisaged for the acquisition of armaments. The Premier Giuseppe Conte and the Minister of Defense, Elisabetta Trenta, writes Il Messaggero, have repeatedly talked about the revision of the F-35 program, would like to further cut the already small 90 expected specimens. It must be remembered that in Italy 253 aircraft including Tornado, AMX and AV-8B Harrier will be replaced with only 90 F-35 Lightning II (Aeronautica Militare: 60 F-35A CTOL and 15 F-35B STOVL; Navy: 15 F-35B STOVL) in various roles such as attack and interdiction, reconnaissance and intelligence, and fleet air defense.
The cutting of the F-35, however, is very dear to the M5S so much so that they could claim it with more force, today, after the Pentagon's decision to entrust Boeing the construction of the fleet of new training aircraft. Leonardo participated in the race with the T-346, the best airplane in the race and even preferred by top American guns.
However, Leonardo should already be satisfied with having won a 2,4 billion dollar tender for 84 AW-139 helicopters destined for the USAF, as is Fincantieri as it could sell 20 Fremm frigates to the US Navy.
However, by virtue of the Conte government's need to maintain a strong understanding with the US, the F-35 program may only be diluted over time to reduce its impact on the next financial years.
Il Messaggero always writes that the risk is therefore that, between respecting an "iron axis" with the US and the need for M5S to "make cash" by cutting military expenses, the costs could be made in Italy equipment and the result of European programs such as MBDA's new Camm ER air defense missiles and Leonardo's NH-90 helicopters, already listed as victims of cuts for over 500 million. A paradoxical choice that would jeopardize many jobs in Italian companies, compromise defense capabilities and undermine the confidence of the European industrial partners involved in the indicated programs, which may not be the only ones to be suspended. In fact, there are rumors of more substantial defense cuts, up to 1,3 billion euros, to be found with the reduction of expenses for missions abroad and perhaps sacrificing other programs.
Road all uphill for the defense department whose task is to ensure the security of the state in all possible scenarios.