Italy has made commitments at both governmental and industrial levels to join the UK's Tempest sixth-generation fighter development. Italy joining demonstrates the UK's commitment to partnering with allied nations, and will leverage experience that the two nations have in being involved in the industrial development of fighters such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon.
The two governments have agreed to partner on combat air capabilities, and both this and a separate industrial agreement follow a series of feasibility studies that have been carried out between the two nations.
It is the second partner nation that has elected to join the British project, following a memorandum of understanding signed between the UK and Sweden in July, fulfilling the aims of the Tempest initiative that serves to develop a combat aircraft that will provide both strategic and economic advantages for the UK and allied partners.
The project was launched in July 2018 at the Farnborough Airshow, and is a key element of the UK's Combat Air Strategy, which outlines plans to develop a fighter that has the capabilities to fulfil operational needs from 2035 onwards, while also ensuring that British industry has developed technologies mature enough to deliver this.
To this end, the industrial aspect of the project is being delivered by Team Tempest, which comprises UK companies and the Ministry of Defence's Rapid Capability Office, working together to ensure the technology is ready in time for an acquisition of the aircraft.
The team includes BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, MBDA and Leonardo, which are being supported by a £2 billion government investment.
These partners used the second day of DSEI to sign a statement of intent with Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy, which will result in them working together to create a partnership model to define the requirements of the aircraft.
With fifth-generation fighter aircraft no longer being exclusive to NATO and its allies as other nations rapidly develop their respective manufacturing capabilities, plans such as the Combat Air Strategy are important to ensure the UK and its partners stay ahead of the curve, Air Chief Marshall Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff for the RAF, said during DSEI. ''This is of enormous strategic significance to the UK aerospace sector, and with that our science and technology sector as a whole,'' he added.