July 22, 2020 / 11:30 AM / 21 days ago

Other nations interested in UK's Tempest fighter jet project - Leonardo CEO

FILE PHOTO: Britain's defence minister, Gavin Wiliamson (UNSEEN), unveiled a model of a new jet fighter, called 'Tempest' at the Farnborough Airshow, in Farnborough, Britain July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - The chief executive of Italian defence firm Leonardo (LDOF.MI) said that other nations are interested in joining Tempest, the British-led project to build a new fighter jet with Italy and Sweden.

“Time remains for other partners to join Tempest. You have seen other nations express an interest and we are extremely positive for the future,” Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo told a webcast at Virtual Farnborough on Wednesday, an online event to replace the cancelled airshow.

Japan has been in the past been mentioned as a possible future partner on the Tempest project.

Britain launched the project in 2018 and has since been joined by Italy and Sweden in a pact to co-operate on fighter jets and get Tempest off the ground as it vies with a rival Franco-German project to win a share of future military budgets.

BAE Systems (BAES.L), Britain’s biggest defence company, UK engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L), European missile maker MBDA and Swedish defence company Saab (SAABb.ST) are amongst the companies working to develop Tempest, meant eventually to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon from 2040.

Saab said on Monday it would invest 50 million pounds ($63 million) in a new future combat air systems centre in Britain to deepen its relationship with the UK.

Seven other UK companies including Bombardier Belfast, Collins Aerospace in the UK, GE Aviation in the UK and GKN Aerospace also said they would become involved in the project.

BAE CEO Charles Woodburn said on Wednesday that the partners had made a “significant step forward” in the project to deliver a new fighter jet that is flexible, upgradeable and on budget.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison

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