The Italian Navy is set for some drastic pruning as the troubled eurozone’s third-largest economy looks at reducing military numbers by around 30 per cent. Up to 28 older naval vessels have been earmarked for disposal in the next four years to save money on their increasing operating costs.

The proposed changes would see the axing of four Maestrale class frigates, four Artigliere (Lupo) class frigates, six to eight Minerva class corvettes, three Lerici class minehunters, four training vessels and four ocean tugs from the fleet. The first Stromboli class replenishment tanker and the salvage ship Anteo will also be decommissioned by 2016, but with replacements planned.

The cuts will also affect future equipment plans, with Italy’s overall F-35 Joint Strike Fighter procurement being reduced from 131 to 90 aircraft, of which only 15 F-35Bs will now be going to the navy. An order for a final batch of four FREMM multi-mission frigates may also be curtailed in favour of six patrol corvettes.

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