Leaders of the UK and Italian Armed Forces signed an agreement to collaborate on the development of the Tempest Future Combat Air System at the DSEI event in London yesterday.

The statement of intent will see Italian industry joining the development as part of Team Tempest.

Leonardo’s UK subsidiary had already partnered on the programme with its Italian parent company, which has expressed an interested in the project since its inception.

The agreement will see signatories also continue close collaboration on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Italy is the second international partner to join Team Tempest after Sweden agreed to join the programme last month.

Speaking at DSEI today, BAE System CEO Charles Woodburn, said that “both nations are committed to working together on Tempest”.

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Woodburn added that international partnerships would provide the best opportunity for the programme to achieve its requirements.

Woodburn spoke alongside Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo who also stressed the importance of the partnership to ‘sustain’ the UK and Italy’s military advantage.

Profumo said: “Like the UK, Italy is a nation of engineers,” adding that Team Tempest would allow both countries to ensure their safety and prosperity.

The agreement between Italy and the UK to work together on Tempest stemmed from the publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy in 2018.

The agreement described the UK and Italy as ‘natural Combat Air partners’, partly due to both countries’ air forces using the F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

In a press release, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) said: “The UK and Italy have a proven 50-year track record of working closely together on Combat Aircraft development and support through the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon programmes.”

The goal of Team Tempest is to deliver a sixth-generation aircraft for the UK and partnering countries.

The project includes a number of leading industry partners including BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, MBDA, Leonardo and now Italian industry partners.

The partners are aiming to operate the aircraft from around 2040.