UK and Italy to partner on Tempest

Italy will work with the UK on its Tempest military jet project as part of a major agreement to deepen the countries’ air combat relationship, it was announced today.

It is a major boost to the sixth generation fighter jet project and follows Sweden’s July announcement that it will also work with Britain on future combat air programmes.

BAE Systems, with operations at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, is playing a key role in ‘Team Tempest’ which is looking to develop the fighter aircraft.

The defence giant joined Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK, together with key Italian industry players Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy, in signing today’s Statement of Intent (SOI).

It means they will work together to “define an innovative concept and partnership model” which will include knowledge sharing, product definition and technology development for the joint development of future combat air systems.

The signing of the SOI at the DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International) fair follows a commitment by the UK and Italian governments to work closely together on combat air capabilities.

That includes working on systems such as the Typhoon and F-35 as well as Tempest.

Our two nations have a long and shared history of success on international programmes

BAE Systems chief executive Charles Woodburn said: “Our proven record of successful collaboration with Italian industry makes us certain that this partnership between our two nations is a strong fit for Tempest and demonstrates the growing momentum behind this important international endeavour.

“Today’s announcement will expand existing partnerships with MBDA and Leonardo, which are central to our work in unleashing the full potential of Typhoon, as together we develop future combat air technologies to the benefit of both nations.”

Leonardo chief executive Alessandro Profumo added: “Today’s agreement is an essential next step for this exciting and strategically important programme.

“As the CEO of Leonardo, I’m confident in this collaboration as each day I see how UK and Italian engineers, working together, achieve incredible things.

“Our two nations have a long and shared history of success on international programmes and we believe that working together on Tempest will further strengthen each nation's technological, industrial and skills base to ensure prosperity for decades to come.”

The UK revealed in July that it was looking for more international partners to join it as it looks to develop its future combat air needs.

It followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sweden to work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme.

Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew revealed the search for partners began after the UK decided it did not want to participate in a Franco-German project to build a next generation fighter jet.

And he confirmed that more international partners would be welcomed as the UK developed its own military air strategy.

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