The defence ministries of the UK and Sweden have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development of future combat air systems.

Under the MoU signed at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the UK and Sweden will work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme.

The joint programme will include the development of new concepts to meet future combat air requirements of the two nations.

The agreement will set the stage for the countries to explore the possibility of jointly developing a future combat air system, said Swedish firm Saab.

Saab has revealed that it collaborated with British firms BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA and Rolls-Royce on a feasibility study on future combat air systems (FCAS).

UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “The UK and Sweden have an enduring defence relationship, with our two industries sharing a rich history of collaboration in air power.

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“Not only do we share the same commitment to tolerance, freedom and free trade, we also share the same determination to defend those values, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and today as part of the UK’s Joint Expeditionary Force.

“This agreement further deepens this partnership and sees us look to the future with a bold and shared vision of the UK and Swedish air power.”

The UK is working with an industry team to develop a next-generation combat air system known as Tempest to eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from 2040.

Named ‘Team Tempest’, the industry team includes the above mentioned British companies. The government and industry will share the proposed initial investment of around £2bn in the project.

A prototype of the Tempest fighter was unveiled at Farnborough Air Show in July last year.

The UK Government is open to partnering with other countries for the advanced fighter jet programme.

Sweden Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist noted that the countries will look to incorporate advanced technologies onto Gripen and Typhoon, the fighters currently serving Sweden and the UK respectively.

These technologies could subsequently flow into the joint FCAS project.

According to Rolls-Royce, the two nations will undertake joint research and development to identify potential technologies for integration into Gripen and Typhoon.

The programme will also feature government and industry studies on different aspects, including cost modelling.

Based on the outcome of these steps, the UK and Sweden will make a decision on the further course in the partnership.

An Outline Business Case is expected to be submitted in December next year.