An Italian Perspective on the Munich Eurofighter Ministerial

By Italian Ministry of Defence

A May 25, 2019 article published on the Italian Ministry of Defence website, highlighted the perspective of Undersecretary of State for Defence Angelo Tofalo with regard to the way ahead for Eurofighter as a joint program.

Undersecretary of State for Defence Angelo Tofalo has attended the Eurofighter ministerial meeting held in Munich, at NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency) headquarters. Around the table were the delegations of the other 3 Member Nations.  Italy joined  the cooperation programme in 1986, with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Germany was represented by Secretary of State Benedikt Zimmer, Spain by Secretary of State for Defence Angel Olivares Ramirez, and the United Kingdom by Parliamentary Undersecretary of State, Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew.

In his speech, Tofalo underscored “the need to maintain a common line of action, avoiding national divergencies and individualistic decisions. We should not reiterate – Tofalo continued- the errors of the past, when, with the Tornado programme, the limits of an extremely heterogeneous table came to the fore, resulting in the proliferation of model variants with subsequent catastrophic consequences for the logistic support chain”. 

According to Undersecretary Tofalo “the Eurofighter programme is the starting point to develop our 6th generation technology with a strong European approach. So far – he underscored- it remains the most ambitious international  industrial cooperation programme, as well as a major driver for our aerospace industry”.

In fact, according to estimates, the programme accounts for over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

“Technologies under development will ensure not only an operational capability for partner countries’ Air Forces, but also significant returns in the field of civilian innovation”,  Angelo Tofalo added.

The second day of the meeting was also attended by national industry representatives, for tabling a discussion and update on the project’s commercial potential.  

“It’s high time to become fully aware of the importance of working in synergy, in our common interest, without forgetting that the Eurofighter programme is one of the most advanced technology project for Europe,” Undersecretary Tofalo said.

“Its success will be the basis to strengthen industrial cooperation and the European Defence concept itself.  Italy looks to the future with trust, because it intends to play this international match by finally emphasizing the importance of its know-how.” 

The previous meeting, held in Florence on 14 December 2018, focused on the strategic aspects of the programme, underscoring its criticalities. 

Editor’s Comment: There clearly has been a major challenge facing the Eurofighter program with regard to the commonality challenge, and this has led to the formation of a working group at the European Air Group to address the issue.

Another key challenge is that RAF wishing to accelerate its capabilities on Typhoon developed new capabilities not done within the Eurofighter joint framework and they did so precisely to get more advanced capabilities more rapidly than other Eurofighter partners have done.

And there is clearly the Brexit issue which could impact significantly on the Eurofighter program in terms of how the supply chain will work effectively, among other challenges.

Finally, there is a question of shaping the way ahead with air combat forces.

The British are leveraging Typhoon and F-35 to sort through with various partners what comes next.

The Germans are not currently going down this path.

Which of course leads to the question of defining the Italian working relationship with the UK, other F-35 partners and Eurofighter modernization as well.