By Paolo Valpolini
The historical link established in the 1970s when the UK and Italy, together with Germany, launched the Tornado programme, a scheme repeated years later with the Eurofighter programme, will be maintained. Lt.Gen. (Italian Army) Nicolò Falsaperna, the Defense Secretary General, and Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of the UK Defence Equipment & Support, signed at DSEI the Declaration of Intent for the cooperation among the two countries on the Tempest programme.
Unveiled at Farnborough 2018 the Tempest programme immediately attracted the attention of Italian officials, the Declaration of Intent marking the engagement of both governments to further develop the respective capabilities in the Combat Air sector, confirming the positive comments expressed by high ranking Italian uniformed officials in July 2018. The combined feasibility study carried out since the launch of the programme confirmed that the UK and Italy are natural partners in the Combat Air sector, the two countries being already using numerous common weapon systems. Both the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force are equipped with the Eurofighter Typhoon and are putting into service the F-35 Lightning II.
Leonardo and MBDA, the former controlling 25% of the shares of the latter, are among the four companies that launched the programme at Farnborough last year, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce being the two other. A press statement is awaited for Wednesday 11 by the Tempest team on the aforementioned signature. Other Italian companies that should participate in the Tempest development should be Avio Aero and Elettronica. The Italian moves follows that of Sweden, which announced its participation into the UK-led programme during the Royal International Air Tattoo last July. The two European programmes for a sixth-generation fighter aircraft can now count each on three partner nations.