July 22 (UPI) -- The British, Swedish and Italian defense industries are in discussion to collaborate on air combat capability, defense contractor BAE Systems said on Wednesday.
The framework was promoted Wednesday as a means to employ tens of thousands of skilled workers in those countries' leading defense industry companies, a BAE statement said.
The announcement mentioned Britain's BAE, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and MBDA UK; Italy's Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italia, and Sweden's Saab and GKN Aerospace.
The companies would also work, in part, within Britain's Future Combat Air System project, a $24 billion plan by Britain to build the next-generation fighter plane, now known as Tempest, by 2035.
While the Tempest would replace France's Rafale and Britain's Typhoon planes, it is expected to be an advancement over the F-35 of the United States, which is flown by several countries in Europe.
European defense industry leaders were enthusiastic on Wednesday of the prospective collaboration.
"All three national industries fully grasp the historic nature of this moment," Alessandro Profumo, chief executive officer at Leonardo, said in an MBDA statement. "Tempest will be the cornerstone of across-border system of common defense 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 defense industries will thrive for a generation," Profumo said.
The announcement came after the British Defense Ministry said on Monday that seven more companies signed agreements to work on what it now calls "Team Tempest."
Bombardier Belfast, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation UK, GKN Aerospace, Martin-Baker, QinetiQ and Thales UK joined BAE, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defense on the Tempest project, British officials said. Additional companies are expected to join the consortium.
The project, begun in 2018, currently employs 1,800 people in Britain.
"Just two years after Team Tempest was created, they delivered a world first," commented Defense Minister Ben Wallace. "It's no surprise -- when you attract the very best of British engineering and design, technological leaps like these are guaranteed."
"I'm delighted seven more companies have joined this mission to work in collaboration with the MoD, under the Team Tempest banner," Wallace said. "They will bring the ambition, invention and expertise that will deliver the breakthroughs we will depend on for decades to come."