The Italian Military Mission in Malta is expected to wind down operations next year because of cost-cutting by the Italian government.

The mission was set up more than 40 years ago and provides training and rescue services using AB-212 helicopters. In the past it had a wider role, both military and civil, including participation in infrastructural projects. 

Officially, both the Maltese and Italian governments said the presence of the Italian military is no longer necessary as the Armed Forces of Malta has acquired the necessary expertise and personnel not to require any back-up. It also recently bought two modern helicopters for rescue work.

“The re-dimensioning and winding down of the Italian Military Mission in Malta is planned for 2016 and has been long coming,” a spokesman for the AFM said. “We are currently in discussions with the Italians to see how our collaboration can keep going despite this decision. We are very interested in keeping our bond especially where it comes to training,” the spokesman added.

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