ROME Jan 22 The head of Italy's main
centre-left party, leading in opinion polls ahead of an election
next month, said he would cut spending on Lockheed Martin Corp's
F-35 fighter jet if he became prime minister.
"Spending on the F-35 must absolutely be revised and
limited," Pier Luigi Bersani said in a taped interview for
RAI2's evening news broadcast which has yet to air, according to
a post by his spokesman on Twitter.
"Our priority is not fighter jets, but jobs," he was quoted
Last year, Italy cut its F-35 order to 90 warplanes from the
131 it agreed to buy more than a decade ago. That move will save
Italy 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion), the defence ministry said.
Bersani's announcement followed an incident that led the
U.S. Navy to ground a version of the fighter jet on Friday.
Italy has said it wants that same model of the F-35 for its
Pacifist groups and smaller left-wing rivals of Bersani's
Democratic Party (PD) have said the 10 billion euros that Italy
plans to spend on the fighters should go toward funding the
state health-care system, local transport services, and to
prevent welfare cuts.
A poll on Friday found that the PD together with its Left,
Ecology and Liberty coalition partner held about a 6
percentage-point lead going into the Feb. 24-25 vote, down four
points from a week earlier.