Italy's defence and industry ministries are proposing a joint approach to the funding of key military aerospace programmes being undertaken by domestic industry. The move is aimed at meeting a defence requirement which cannot be achieved at current budget levels, while providing a boost to the Italian aerospace industry, says undersecretary for defence Massimo Brutti.

Brutti names some projects that could receive industry department funding, including the Alenia/ Lockheed Martin C-27J and Airbus A400M airlifters, trainers and participation in the US-led Joint Strike Fighter programme.

The purchase of 18 C-27Js, an updated version of the Alitalia G222, is proposed, along with a five year logistic support plan to woo the air force into accepting the aircraft. The purchase would help export prospects for the recently rolled out tactical airlifter, which has yet to secure a customer.

The defence secretary also touted the possibility of using an industry ministry programme to buy extra Aermacchi MB339 advanced jet trainers. The air force has already benefited from the ministry's earlier purchase of 15 MB339CDs as lead-in fighter trainers. These were secured without a logistics support programme thrown in - a problem that the air force wants resolved this time round if it gets the new aircraft.

Although the service wants to retire some older MB339As, it is keener to launch a retrofit and life extension programme for the more than 90 MB339As in service, rather than obtain more MB339CDs.

Aermacchi is studying a retrofit package. It is likely the air force will accept new trainers only if they are gifted by the industry ministry.

Source: Flight International