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At DSEI 2019, leading British companies including BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK, together with Italian industry players represented by Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy, signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) to partner on the TEMPEST programme. UK and Italian governments had previously declared to cooperate on future Combat Air capabilities, including the TEMPEST programme. The SOI outlined a number of commitments, 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”.

The agreement was the result of a joint Government feasibility study, which was launched following publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy at Farnborough Air Show in July 2018. The study concluded that the “UK and Italy are natural Combat Air partners, with both Air Forces operating the same, potent fleet of Eurofighter TYPHOON and F-35”.
The SOI will see the parties develop a partnership model which will include knowledge sharing, product definition and technology development for the joint development of future combat air systems. Charles Woodburn, Group Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems, speaking at DSEI on behalf of the leading UK defence companies, 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 endeavor. Today’s announcement will expand existing partnerships with MBDA and Leonardo”.

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, added: “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”. Similarly, MBDA is a fully integrated enterprise with important activities in both Britain and Italy. 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 programmes, such as the METEOR air-to-air missile,” said Pasquale di Bartolomeo, Managing Director of MBDA Italia.

Elettronica, Italy’s champion in Electronic Warfare, already works closely alongside Leonardo-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.

In July 2018, the UK and Sweden had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on future combat air, committing the parties to work on a joint combat air development programme. The Statement of Intent (SIO) signed between the UK and Italy MoD and industries is an attenuated 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. According to Guerini, this agreement is “yet another confirmation of the excellence of the Italian defence industry.”

Luca Peruzzi