“Bipartisan” concurrence on the JSF in Italy

translation: L. Bionda

The first memorandum was signed in December 1998, during D’Alema’s government; the second one followed in June 2002, with Berlusconi at the head of the government; the third one was signed in February 2007 by Lorenzo Forcieri, Deputy Minister of Defense during Prodi’s government, and included further engagements regarding the antimissile shield imposed by the United States.
These are the three agreements signed by Italy as partner in the project for the development of the new strike fighter plane “F-35 Lighting II (Joint Strike Fighter)”. Italy – whose intention is to replace by 2015 the Harrier, AMX and Tornado fighter jets used by the Italian Air Force – has already spent 638,000,000 USD in the first step of the project development (which is expected to cost more than one billion dollars), but we have to add other 900 million dollars more for the following step of implementation and production of the aircraft.
At the beginning a very positive spin-off on our economy was expected, with a workforce of ten thousand people employed for almost fifty years, as a large group of Italian companies (lead by Alenia and Fiat Avio) takes part to the project with subcontracts for designing and constructing the fighters’ wings.
According to the last estimate, howewer, no more than a thousand people would be employed, two hundred of them directly and the others in the allied industries, for ten years; these are the “expected” results, since they will come true only with the assemblage of the aircrafts, to be completed in a military base near Cameri, in the province of Novara (North-Western Italy), and with the subsequent purchase of 131 strike fighters, as planned, for an economic pledge of 11 billions USD approximately (and with a cost of 84 million USD each, if the estimate will be confirmed, but who knows …).
Small things, we could say, if compared with the 2,500 strike fighters that the United States and the United Kingdom have planned to purchase, and with the 4,500 strike fighters that the Lockheed Martin company, leader of the American companies’ group that represents the primary contractor, would like to produce.
But the nearly two billion dollars spent in the JSF project are public funds, and the deals signed by the Italian companies, for less than a billion dollars, will produce private profits; however, everything will become reality only when the government effectively acquires the aircraft.
Moreover, the JSF plan is in direct competition with the Eurofighter “Typhoon”, the strike fighter that Italy is building with the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain; Italy would purchase 121 of these planes (at 58 million euros each, for a total spending of almost 7 billion euros ).
According to some experts, the choice of JSF interferes with the evolution of the European defense strategies and distracts resources away from the Eurofighter project. Others point at a strategic industrial dependence, arising from the United States’ unwillingness to share technology and information in order to protect their technological superiority in that field.
The discussion in our Parliament and on the media regarding the JSF project had good impact in Norway, Denmark and Holland only, while in Italy it was almost ignored.
According to the website “Dedefensa”, citing an anonymous Italian official linked with our former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, the Italian government was very much pressed by Washington to go on with the JSF project.
The Italian official declared: “We couldn’t do anything, there has been such a pressure, such a great and continuous pressure that totally absorbed our political system. We are captives, literally. This goes beyond a common situation of political ‘influence’. This situation lies deep into the psychology and the very essence of our political system”.
Decades of subjection not caused by weakness and declining power, but by “the psychology and the very essence of our political system”. A habit to subsiervience so rooted that we don’t even think of shaking it off, because that woul mean rethinking our strategy and geopolitics. And our politicians and lawmakers often don’t even know that such issues exist.

Italian version

A tiger in their tank

translation: M. Zanarini

It runs across 6 Regions, 17 Provinces e 136 Municipalities in Italy. Completely funded by the Atlantic Alliance (NATO), it was built in the Sixties in order to supply in a continuous and autonomous way the aircrafts based in the military airbases all around Europe with Jet A1 fuel (Kerosene).
Its name is “NATO-POL”(which means Petroleum Oil Lubricant) and it’s a complete system of marine terminals, underground storage depots and pumping units: a pipeline network that runs for more than 11.000 Km, from the sea to the heart of Europe.
The POL system is one of the least-known parts of NATO infrastructure: the Italian section of the network – called North Italian Pipeline System (NIPS) – carries fuel to the US-NATO bases in Ghedi (Brescia), Aviano (Pordenone), Rivolto (Udine), and Cervia (Ravenna), as well as to other infrastructure used by the Italian Air Force.
From Vezzano marine terminal, in Val Mulinello, near La Spezia, it goes to the Collecchio (Parma) hub, from where it takes three directions, for a total length of about 850 Km.
Some important storage depots are located in Mestre, in Augusta to supply the Sigonella US Navy base, and in Taranto.
One branch goes to Germany, via Austria. Another one arrives in Lisbon, Portugal, where it has been assigned an entire wharf.
More depots are in Great Britain. Other networks, similar to the Italian one, are in Norway, Greece and Turkey, while Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are connected by a European central system.
Senator Severino Galante (PdCI) tried to know something more about it, with a parliamentary interrogation in which he seeked explanation from the Government on the secrecy around the pipeline, asking if an authorization had been released to NATO to expand the network in the segment running from Vicenza (where a failure has recently taken place) to Aviano.
The Former Defence Minister Parisi answered that “Dal Molin airport in Vicenza is not supplied by this network” and that the infrastructure is not under “any secrecy order”, because every 200 metres it’s possible to see a sign with the words “State Administration” written on it.
The fuel is carried to Val Mulinello, from the tankers arrived in La Spezia, at a speed of 20.000 litres per hour, and then stored in concrete tanks reinforced with sheet steel and covered with earth, in order to prevent spills and to protect them from possibile attacks.
The maximum capacity on the Italian side is of 1,6 million litres per day, as of 1999 (at the time of the NATO aggression on former Jugoslavia). Logistically, it depends from the Italian Air Force (AMI), precisely from the Command based in Parma airport, at 35, Cremonese Street.
The company entrusted with the management and maintenance of the plant in Italy is “IG” (Infrastrutture e Gestioni) S.p.A., based in Rome at 75, Castello della Magliana Street.
“IG” is a subsidiary of the French engineering company “Technip” and has been working for more than 30 years in the implementation and management of industrial plants and infrastructure, in Italy and abroad, both in civil and in military engineering, developing considerable technical and organizational experience.
The contract, signed in 2000 with the Directorate-General for Aircraft Weapons of the Ministry of Defence, has a duration of 14 years and includes: management of petroleum products, with receipt and delivery in the areas of use; ordinary and extraordinary maintenance; control over easements and concessions; technical services; staff training; area guarding; general management.
Someone sharply called it “Fuel Gladio”.

Italian version