In an interview with Italian Magazine Formiche, the country’s defence minister Lorenzo Guerini said he was committed to the F-35 programme despite calls to postpone the purchase of the jets to pay for the response to Covid-19.

The country’s Five Star Party has called for the government to cut defence spending and pausing the F-35 programme for a year, however, Guerini said modernisation of the country’s air force ‘ensures our nation is secure’.

Guerini said in times of recession there is ‘always a risk’ that defence is not seen as a priority and that a drop in spending often happens. However, he added that the public ‘must be aware’ that slashing defence spending mainly affects research and development. He said defence spending cuts also damage highly qualified jobs, and would ‘impoverish’ industrial capabilities.

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