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The leading British defence companies including BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK, together with key Italian industry players represented by Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy, announced their intent to partner on the Tempest programme by signing a Statement of Intent (SOI) on the second day of DSEI 2019.

The signing of the SOI follows a commitment by the UK and Italian governments to work closely together on current and future Combat Air capabilities, including the Tempest programme, which was signed yesterday by the Italian Secretary General of Defence, Lt Gen Nicolò Falsaperna and UK Defence Equipment & Support CEO, Sir Simon Bollom, in their roles as National Armament Directors.

The SOI signed by the two Minister of Defence’s representatives outlined a number of commitments from both countries, including “closer Government alignment on future Eurofighter Typhoon enhancement” as well as “deepening discussions on Tempest military requirements.” The SOI also includes the commitment “to develop a combat air roadmap, identifying opportunities to integrate advanced technologies from Eurofighter Typhoon into Tempest as well as developing an innovative, agile and co-operative industrial framework to deliver Tempest,” and launch “pilot studies to demonstrate new, collaborative ways of working.”

The agreement was the result of the joint Government feasibility study, which was launched following publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy at the Farnborough air show in July 2018. The study concluded that the “UK and Italy are natural Combat Air partners, with both Air Forces (the Royal Air Force and the Aeronautica Militare) operating the same, potent fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35,” continued the notes released by the two MODs.

“Both governments confirmed a common desire to maintain strong industrial bases in order to access key capabilities and secure prosperity for both nations. Italy and the UK have a long and successful history working together on international programmes such as Tornado, Typhoon and F-35.”

The SOI signed on the second day of DSEI by the leading UK and Italian defence companies, will see the parties 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. “This was preceded by an initial study to assess the feasibility of a common approach to future Combat Air systems. Many areas of potential collaboration were identified, including where shared industrial enterprises such as Leonardo and MBDA already see close integration between the two nations,” the note stated.

“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,” said Charles Woodburn, Group Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems, speaking at DSEI on behalf of the leading UK defence companies involved in the programme, after the SIO signature.

“I am very pleased that Italy has taken the decision to joint Tempest at this important stage in the programme, which is great news for Italian industry and the future prosperity of our nation,” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo after the same event at DSEI. “Of course, our UK arm of Leonardo is one of the founding members of Britain’s industrial collaboration for Tempest and we have been very keen as a Company to bring our Italian expertise and capabilities to that partnership,” he stated.

Similarly, MBDA is a fully integrated enterprise with important activities carried out in both countries. The Meteor system is just one example of cutting-edge technology which is collaboratively designed and provided to the Air Forces of both nations. “Today’s announcement further reinforces MBDA’s contribution to Tempest programme, exploiting the industrial excellences offered by the nations involved. In addition to its future weapons capabilities presented by the Tempest Team during the show, MBDA Italia will be able to contribute with its system expertise developed thanks to the ten-year participation in multinational programs, such as the Meteor air-to-air missile, as well as with the technological skills matured in the guidance and seeker segment. This is an important opportunity to collaborate in the development of future solutions,” said Pasquale di Bartolomeo, Managing Director of MBDA Italia and Executive Group Director Sales & Business Development.

Elettronica, Italy’s champion in Electronic Warfare, already works closely alongside Leonardo in the UK, this country’s leading supplier of airborne electronics and electronic warfare. Though natural competitors, the two companies are working together on the Praetorian Defensive Aids Suite for the Eurofighter Typhoon. “Elettronica, as a national strategic company, is honoured to be among the signatory partners of the SOI about the Tempest, that will enable us to maintain and increase skills and opportunities for our country in such a decisive sector. Our Company favours the long time and productive collaboration with governmental and industrial partners who have signed this SOI, on similar programmes such as Tornado and more particularly Eurofighter Typhoon and its development. Thus, we trust that the partnership between the two nations can evolve towards a new collaboration model – as an evolution of the EFA – within the already acquired national technological sovereignties, and through an appropriate handling of design authorities,” said Enzo Benigni, President and CEO of Elettronica.

“Such partnerships also seek innovation in the world of academia,” said Leonardo’s CEO. Avio Aero for example has strong links with a number of UK Universities and is working on the Clean Sky 2 research project with UK partners to drastically reduce aircraft fuel consumption and therefore the environmental impact of flying.  “We are honoured and proud to be part of this strategic collaboration. This represents a unique opportunity for us, for our Industry and for Italy to ensure its tomorrow’s industrial leadership by developing cutting-edge technologies and know-how in the strategic field of aircraft propulsion,” said Riccardo Procacci, CEO of Avio Aero, leveraging on the experiences acquired with the EJ200 propulsion system for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

“Now we take the next step together. And when I say together, I also include our friends in Sweden, who this summer announced their intention to partner with the UK on Tempest. As Italy and Sweden are already working together on a range of defence and security projects, we’re also looking forward to expanding our level of collaboration with Swedish industry too,” said Leonardo’s CEO.

As anticipated, the UK and Swedish governments signed last July a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on future combat air, committing the parties to work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme. The Statement of Intent (SIO) signed between the UK and Italy MoD and industries represents a ‘less powerful’ formal commitment to the programme. “The launch of this important partnership between Italy and the United Kingdom, in a strategic sector such as aerospace, is a very positive result’, the new Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said after gaining his position as part of the new Italian Government established on the 5th September. According to Guerini, this is an agreement “achieved thanks to effective and concrete work and further confirmation of the excellence of the Italian defence industry.”

Luca Peruzzi