Britain, Italy and Sweden have begun trilateral industry discussions to strengthen collaboration on future combat air capability, the companies announced on 22 July.
The new trilateral framework sees industry from all three nations bringing together their skills and expertise in the combat air sector to collaborate on research and development of cutting-edge technologies. The companies involved include BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK in Britain; Leonardo, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italia in Italy; and from Sweden, Saab and GKN Aerospace Sweden. These discussions build on the series of bilateral discussions held to date – together, the companies will assess common routes to future combat air capability using their know-how, expertise and technology development activities across current and future combat air systems.
This framework is another step on the path towards a full agreement between these national industries to formalise areas of joint collaboration on future combat air systems development. The industries each directly employ tens of thousands of people and support many morehighly skilled jobs through their supply chains, underpinning national security and supporting economic prosperity in the UK, Sweden and Italy.
Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems’ CEO, stated “International partnering provides the best opportunity to deliver a capable, flexible and upgradeable combat air system. We’ve made good progress with Saab and Leonardo in identifying shared goals and expertise and through this new framework; we can build on this collaboration to unlock the huge potential across our three nations.”
Alessandro Profumo, CEO at Leonardo, added “All three national industries fully grasp the historic nature of this moment. TEMPEST will be the cornerstone of a cross-border system of common defence which will extend far beyond combat air. It will secure enormous economic benefits and vast industrial and technological progress for Italy and our partners. Together, we share an understanding that if we get this right now, our respective aerospace and defence industries will thrive for a generation.”
Saab’s CEO, Micael Johansson, observed that “Combat Air is a key component of Sweden’s defence policy and it is defined as a national security interest. Saab is therefore taking these important steps to remain at the forefront of system-of-systems development and the advanced technologies within Combat Air. We welcome the leadership by the Swedish and UK governments, as shown with their July 2019 MoU, and are pleased to deepen our relationship with Italian industry. Our announcement of an initial £50 million Future Combat Air investment and a new FCAS centre in the UK, will contribute to closer working relationships with the other FCAS industrial partners and the UK Ministry of Defence.”
The UK has existing co-operation with Sweden and Italy – for example, all three nations are partners in the joint development and operation of the METEOR air-to-air missile that arms GRIPEN, TYPHOON and the F-35; Swedish-made chaff and flare dispensers are used on RAF TYPHOONs and Saab’s GIRAFFE radar is a key part of the UK’s SKY SABRE ground defence system; AND Swedish GRIPEN E aircraft MOUNT radars designed and built by Leonardo in Edinburgh. Both the British and Italian air forces operate the same, potent fleet of TYPHOONs and F-35s, part of more than 50 years’ close collaboration in combat air.