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DSEI 2019: Italy joins Tempest

12 September 2019
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A mock-up of the Tempest fighter at the DSEI 2019 exhibition in London. The Italian government used the occasion to formally announce its decision to join the effort with the UK and Sweden. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Italy has joined the UK project to develop the 'sixth-generation' Tempest fighter as part of a wider combat aviation system-of-systems.

The country's defence minister, Guerini Lorenzo, announced the agreement to partner on the project on 10 September following the signing of a statement of intent (SOI) by Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), and Lieutenant General Nicolò Falsaperna, Italian Secretary General of Defence, at the DSEI 2019 defence exhibition in London.

"[Joining the programme] is a very positive result achieved thanks to effective and concrete work, confirming [the] excellence of the Italian defence industry", Lorenzo was quoted by the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD) as saying.

As noted by the UK MoD, the SOI between the two nations includes several bi-lateral commitments including: closer government alignment on future Eurofighter Typhoon enhancements; deepening discussions on Tempest military requirements; developing a combat air roadmap and identifying opportunities to integrate advanced technologies from Eurofighter Typhoon into Tempest; developing an innovative, agile, and co-operative industrial framework to deliver Tempest; and launching pilot studies to demonstrate new and collaborative ways of working.

In signing-up for the Tempest programme, Italy joins Sweden as the first two international partners on the project after the Scandinavian nation signed a memorandum of understanding in June to work alongside Team Tempest to develop the future technologies associated with the platform. However, while Sweden has not yet formally joined the programme (a national decision on that will be taken in the third quarter of 2020) and is instead co-operating on the UK's wider Combat Air Strategy (CAS) that includes the Tempest, Italy's commitment to the next-generation fighter appears to be more concrete at this stage.

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