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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 325-02
June 24, 2002

DOD, ITALY SIGN JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER AGREEMENT

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics E.C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr. met today with Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments Director Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola of Italy to sign and exchange memorandum of understanding (MOU) documents for Italian partnership in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.

Under the previous Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP) MOU from 1998 to 2001, both the United States and Italy benefited from JSF ship suitability efforts and associated environmental studies. Through signature of the SDD phase documents, Italy continues its participation and partnership with the United States in the JSF program.

The Italian government will invest $1.028 billion [ 1.09 Billion] in the SDD phase. As the senior Level II partner, Italian Air Force and Navy personnel will occupy five positions within the JSF Program Office. These individuals will be working together with the United States and its international partners, as well as the JSF air system and engine contractors, to develop an affordable system ready for transition to production. Italy's investment in JSF will also provide Italian industry with substantial opportunities to participate with a broad range of US and international companies, thereby expanding and strengthening United States and European defense industrial relationships.

Italy is one of America's closest allies. Italian participation in JSF will forge even closer ties through political-military linkages and in the development of coalition responses to current and future threats. This decision puts Italy in the forefront of countries willing to make forward-leaning choices in building their defense capabilities. As a partner in the recent campaign in Afghanistan, Italy's Naval Air Forces participated in air support of coalition ground forces. Our future coalition capabilities will be further strengthened through Italian participation in the JSF program.

The importance of the JSF partnership for Italian Ministry of Defense and the Department of Defense is a unique opportunity to meet the needs of mutual national interests on a global scale.