Sept. 13 (UPI) -- BAE Systems and Italian defense contractor Leonardo agreed to work cooperatively on the next-generation Tempest fighter plane.
The companies signed a statement of intent at London's DSEI defense trade show this week after the British and Italian governments signaled their approval. The Swedish defense industry, through the Saab company, is also a partner in the British-led venture to build Europe's next-generation fighter plane.
Germany, Spain and France are involved in producing a competing aircraft.
The Tempest is meant to replace the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon, which is planned to leave service in the Royal Air Force beginning in 2040. It is expected that the Tempest will have the capability of flying remotely or with a pilot, but other than mockups on display at a 2019 air show, little is known of its potential capabilities.
"Our two nations have a long and shared history of success on international programs and we believe that working together on Tempest will further strengthen each nation's technological, industrial and skills base to ensure prosperity for decades to come," said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, at the signing on Wednesday.
Other international partners are expected to join the Tempest program, although potential problems initiated by Britain's planned exit from the European Union could complicate the plane's development.