The Italian defence ministry has attempted to ring-fence key procurements in its planned 1998 budget, with personnel cuts and shorter tour lengths preferred to cutting acquisition projects.

Funding for the Eurofighter EF2000 is set at L1.169 billion ($678 million), out of a total defence budget of L31,000 billion. Panavia Tornado, Alenia/Embraer AMX, Lockheed Martin C-130H/C-130J upgrade and acquisition projects are also included in the funding profile.

Parliament has yet to formally approve the production investment phase of the EF2000 programme, although in the past Italy has effectively followed Germany's approvals process. The German cabinet approved its funding requirement for the Eurofighter production investment phase earlier this month (Flight International, 15-21 October).

It also remains to be determined whether the Italian government's resignation will affect either the approval of, or the size of, proposed defence expenditure for 1998.

In attempting to contain costs the defence ministry has reduced the number of its draft intake, while the period of conscription is being cut from 12 to10 months.

It has also cut out any funding in 1998 for either the Alenia G222 upgrade or the Aermacchi MB-339CD procurement.

The ministry has a target of allocating 30 % of its budget for procurement and research and development. The 1998 figures show that 25% of its funding will be used in these areas, a 2% increase over this year.

Alongside aircraft procurement, air force funding includes the acquisition of the Texas Instruments AGM-88 High speed Anti-Radiation Missile as well as Paveway and Elbit Opher guided bombs.

Rotary-wing projects included in the budget cover the army/navy NH Industries NH90 and the naval EH Industries EH-101, as well as funding for the second batch of Agusta A-129 Mangusta light attack helicopters.

Source: Flight International