Thursday, July 3, 2014
Italy is closing in on a deal with the U.S. to become the top maintenance provider for the F-35 fighter in Europe through a unit of state-controlled Finmeccanica, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said. The push for a role in maintenance emphasizes Pinotti's commitment to the F-35 program, even as Italy considers cutting its order for the fighter jets. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, will visit the plant in Cameri, Italy, on July 18, Pinotti said. Italy and the UK are buying the F-35B variant. Italy announced in February 2012 that its initial planned purchase of 131 jets would be reduced to 90. (Source: Bloomberg, 07/02/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center for pilots and maintainers; Finmeccanica's Selex Galileo has an operation at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss., near NASA's Stennis Space Center. The company also has a DRS Technologies operation in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.