Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Gordon R. England
7 February 2007
Thank CR [Davis] for the warm introduction. CR and his team do a wonderful job, and I can’t thank him enough.
Under Secretary of State for Defense Giovanni Forcieri – but to me, “Lorenzo” – I do welcome you and your delegation to the Pentagon this morning. I have a lot of good Italian friends, many here this morning… Mr. Ambassador - Gianni – and Defense Attache - Mirco - it is good to see you. It’s always good to spend time with close friends.
I do want to comment that we’re pleased and delighted to have such a strong and dynamic partner, ally, and great friend in Italy. This is a long-term relationship – our JSF partnership alone will continue 40 years into the future. This country has been richly blessed by the rich Italian heritage of so many leaders in the US, and right here in the Pentagon – like my good friend General Pace, and ADM Giambastiani – we work together very closely, every single day. They are America’s most senior military leaders.
Today’s ceremony marks a concrete step forward in our multi-faceted partnership. Italy has committed a little over $1 billion dollars to the Joint Strike Fighter development phase, and plans to buy a mix of the Conventional Take-Off and Landing variant, and the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing variant. And plans are approved in principle for Italy to invest in and build a Final Assembly and Checkout facility in Italy, to assemble and deliver their Joint Strike Fighter aircraft – one more example of Italy’s strong commitment to the program, and I thank the Italian Government and military for that strong commitment.
As we go forward, Italy has also expressed a strong and welcome interest in partnering closely with the US at the Integrated Training Center at Eglin, Air Force Base. In that partnership, Italy will be providing aircraft and instructor pilots, and fully integrating with US instructors and trainees. It’s a wonderful way to start the program.
This Memorandum of Understanding launches the next important phase in our partnership – setting the organizational structure and the business rules needed for all 9 international partners to move forward together. The last remaining partner, Denmark, is expected to sign by the end of this month – so the entire team will be assembled. Together, this team is a force for good, now and for a long, long time into the future.
I do thank everyone here today, and everyone in Italy who’s been involved, for all of your hard work to date, for all the hard work still to come, and for your commitment and dedication.