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1 Dec, 2011 07:25

Bailout Bombers: Italy's billion-euro F-35 'suicide mission'

Italy is heading deeper into the crisis quagmire, with its debt already nearing the 2-trillion-euro mark. But while average Italians are ready to save, the government has another plan on the table, which critics consider “economic suicide”.

The government’s plan is called The Joint Strike Fighter program or JSF – a defense project based on international effort, with the US, UK and Italy just some of the participants. Still in its developmental stage, the project the final assembly line is supposed to be based in Italy. The town of Novara is 8 km from the military base where the final stage of the F35 project is supposed to take place."If NATO and the US decide that equipment must be built, must be bought, so we must do it and that is why Italy is involved in such a costly venture,” journalist Luca Galassi says. But not everything is going according to plan.Despite the government trying to win the people over with promises of job creation, they remain unconvinced and want the project, which they label economic suicide, to be scrapped.The people in Novara have taken to the streets to oppose what they say is a waste of their and Italian taxpayers’ money.On November 12, more than 2000 people once again took to the streets around Novara to show their disagreement with the decision to build war weapons, and to buy about 100 of them. The motives of the opposition are both pacifist and economic ones, with the latter becoming more and more important.  “It is a very expensive project and now that we are in crisis, Italy is cutting pensions, schools, education public health and so on,” Laura Bergomi activist of peace movement of Novara.People are saying spending so much money that this F35 project when the country is struggling to pull it out of crisis is “absolutely ridiculous”.Italy's decision to purchase 131 of these F35 planes, which combine stealth with fighter speed and agility, and are developed by an American company Lockheed Martin, will set it back some 13 billion euro. With most of Europe mired in the eurozone crisis, and Italy itself now over 2 trillion euro in debt, Italian taxpayers are fed up at military spending they feel they do not want and do not feel they can afford.