UK and Sweden combat air partnership takes off

The UK and Sweden have signed a landmark agreement to partner on future combat air.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) commits both nations to work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme.

And it includes the development of new concepts to meet both countries' future requirements.

Announcing the move at the Royal International Air Tattoo this morning, both nations said they were looking for other international partners to join them.

The MOU is good news for planemakers in Lancashire as BAE Systems looks to future military combat aircraft development.

UK Minister of  Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew said: "Today we usher in an exciting new era in which the talents of two great combat nations will be combined to lift Swedish and British airpower into the stratosphere."

Swedish defence minister Peter Hultqvist said both governments intended to remain at the forefront of combat air.

We usher in an exciting new era in which the talents of two great combat nations will be combined

He stressed the opportunities to put advanced technologies onto the Gripen and Typhoon aircraft- currently operated by Sweden and the UK - before inserting them onto a future combat air system.

Michael Christie, director of Future Combat Air Systems at BAE, stressed the importance of international collaboration moving forward. He described the MOU as a "significant milestone."

Mr Hultqvist said the announcement strengthened the defence industries  of both nations.

BAE Systems, with operations at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, is playing a key role in 'Team Tempest' which is looking to develop the UK's next generation fighter aircraft.