July 19 (UPI) -- Sweden and Britain agreed on Friday to partner on development of future combat aircraft.
British Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist signed a memorandum of understanding calling for "work on a joint combat air development and acquisition program, including the development of new concepts to meet both nations' future requirements," a statement from the U.K. government said. It referred to the pact as "a landmark agreement."
The memorandum cited the history of cooperation between the two countries on air defense issues, and commits both governments to a shared development and acquisition program.
"Twelve months ago, industry and government launched a bold and exciting vision for the future for the U.K. Combat Air sector on the BAE Systems stand at the Farnborough [England] International Air Show," Michael Christie of British defense contractor BAE Systems said at the signing ceremony.
"It also marked the launch of the Ministry of Defense's combat air acquisition program. The importance of international government and industry collaboration was made clear and, as such, today is a significant milestone for that program as we welcome our first international partner," Christie said.
The next steps in the partnership include development of a joint acquisition road map, identifying technologies enabled by production of Swedish Gripen and British Typhoon fighter planes; research and technology co-operation, and further government and industry studies, particularly on cost modelling, a statement from British engine builder Rolls-Royce said.
The Swedish aircraft industry was represented at the ceremony by Saab, builders of the Gripen.
"Saab and British industry stand ready to support the outlined objectives set out by the Swedish and U.K. governments," the company said in a statement on Friday.