UK and Italy are taking a significant step forward in air force collaboration by signing a mutual maintenance agreement for their respective air fleets. The pact, which includes the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35B aircraft in both countries, represents a continued commitment to NATO's ‘Agile Combat Employment' framework.
The Roots of the Agreement
The agreement was conceived following the letter of intent named “Long History, Long Future: From Tornado to Tempest” that was circulated in May. This move aligns with the motive of enhancing the maintenance and logistics interoperability of combat aircraft.
The Provisions of the Pact
The pact includes provisions for cross-maintenance activities on F-35B and Eurofighter aircraft. This agreement will apply both on national bases and in the context of international operations and exercises. The details of the agreement, once finalised, will pave the way for an Italian technician to work on a British F-35B, and vice versa. This unique arrangement will enable the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Aeronautica Militare (AM) to share spare parts and maintenance equipment.
The Advantages of the Agreement
Both the Italian and British Defence Ministries have expressed their support for the agreement, emphasising several key benefits. This pact promotes the cooperation and standardisation of procedures between the nations and optimises the interoperability between the allied air forces. In addition, it equips the air forces with the capability to extend technical support to NATO partners, thereby improving their agility and responsiveness. Notably, it amplifies the interoperability of the Typhoon and F-35 and serves as a stepping stone for future cooperation on GCAP between the RAF and AM.
The Road Ahead
The agreement is slated to be put into action from 2025. Nevertheless, the technical and administrative procedures need to be approved by both the British and Italian parties.
Similar Past Agreements
This isn't the first instance of such cooperation, as a similar agreement was established between the French and Italian navies in September 2022. That agreement revolved around the logistical support of their respective multi-mission frigates, which included access to each other's spare parts stock.