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United States and Italy Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Presenters: Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, USD (AT&L)
June 24, 2002 12:00 PM EDT

(Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Italy regarding participation in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. Also participating was Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, Italian Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments Director and program director for the Joint Strike Fighter General Jack Hudson.)

Hudson: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am Brigadier General Jack Hudson, Program Director for the Joint Strike Fighter.

I have the great honor and privilege today to introduce two gentlemen who have had and continue to have a very profound impact on the JSF program. These two gentlemen completed the negations for the Italian-American Memorandum of Understanding for the Joint Strike Fighter Development Program. The MOU signing is the event that brings us here today.

First, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola. He is the Italian Secretary General Of Defense and National Armaments Director. He has been a tremendous advocate for the JSF program in Italy. His keen energy and vision have been instrumental for the completion of the negotiations for the Italian-American Joint Strike Fighter Development MOU.

Secondly, Mr. Pete Aldridge from the United States. He is the American Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. He also has been a tremendous advocate for the Joint Strike Fighter program. His keen energy and vision have also been instrumental to the completion of negotiations for the Italian-American Joint Strike Fighter Development MOU, and to the very successful conduct of the overall Joint Strike Fighter program.

It is fitting that these two gentlemen are here today for the signing of the Joint Strike Fighter Italian-American Development MOU which continues the close ties in the Italian-American partnering relationship established in the previous phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Mr. Aldridge, sir, the floor is yours.

Aldridge: Thank you Jack. Good morning everybody, I'm glad to be back again as we sign up another partner for the Joint Strike Fighter.

I'd first like to introduce a couple of people who are here today; Ambassador Salio is the Italian Ambassador to the United States. We're glad to have him. Of course you've already been introduced to Admiral Di Paola. Admiral Bartoli who is the Chief of the R&D. Major General Bernadis who is on the Italian Air Staff. Major General Fario who is an Attaché here at the Italian Embassy. And Minister Nardi, who is the Minister of Economic and Commercial Affairs at the Italian Embassy.

I am honored that Admiral Di Paola has come to Washington to join in the signing of the U.S.-Italian Memorandum of Understanding documents for a Level 2 partnership in the Systems Development and Demonstration or SDD phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program. Since 1998 with the Concept Demonstration Phase Italy has played a very important role in the program. Today Italy joins the U.K., the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Norway as the sixth SDD partner. We expect to round out the partnership team with a Level 3 SDD partnership agreement with Turkey in July.

The vision of an affordable, lethal, survivable and supportable strike fighter aircraft is shared by the Italian Air Force and Navy as they plan to meet the post-2010 [sic: 2001] threat. With the early recognition of these attributes, this partnership provides Italy with the opportunity to be at the forefront of aerospace technology and aircraft capabilities throughout the JSF development. The Ministry of Defense's early and continued involvement in the JSF highlights the benefits that participation in the JSF development holds for Italian and allied force structure planning.

The JSF program provides unique opportunity to forge closer technological ties among partner nations' industries. Industry to industry cooperation on the JSF is a reality and will continue to grow and mature, fortifying associations that will carry throughout production and post-production relationships for 30 to 40 years or longer.

The program return to cooperative partners is not measured just in dollars or euros but in skillful interoperative forces capable of conducting and supporting actions worldwide.

Today we are locked in a global struggle to counter terrorism, a threat to our way of life. Italy has long dealt with this menace and knows firsthand the importance of cooperation in halting and defeating terrorism. Our common resolve to continue cooperative efforts against a common enemy is embodied within this ceremony.

I welcome the Italian Ministry of National Defense to the JSF cooperative family. Together we will bring about great change for our two countries.

Now I'd like to introduce my friend, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, Secretary General of Defense and National Armaments Director of Italy.

Giampaolo, welcome.

[Applause]

Di Paola: Ladies and gentlemen, Pete first of all, my dear friend Pete. I want to personally thank you for inviting me to this most remarkable ceremony. It is really a pleasure and an honor to represent the Italian government and in particular the Minister of Defense, Minister Martino, for the signature of this MOU which really marks Italy joining the SDD phase of the Joint Strike Fighter Program.

The Joint Strike Fighter program represents for Italy, the United States and the other participants to this project, a significant step forward in the way of modernizing our air capability. The development of this new aircraft as I see it for the first time defense people from many allied nations, from many different services, and from the aerospace industry working together as a joint team to develop a most effective and affordable system.

Jointness is embedded in the name of this aircraft, Joint Strike Fighter. Jointness must be embedded as well in the development of this demanding but very challenging program.

Today's ceremony formalizes Italy's participation in the joint enterprise as the second largest participant to the project besides, of course the United States. We recognize Joint Strike Fighter is the new approach to military procurement in that it pursues top performances while benefiting from standardization, rationalization, interoperability and a strict eye on cost control.

Air operations in the last decade have indicated a need for effective air power in a high threat environment, low viability, which normally is better known as darkness, flexibility, effective engagement and rapid deployability are key factors of growing importance.

We believe the Joint Strike Fighter to be a proper answer to these requirements and to both capability and shortfall which has been defined in DCI, in the NATO Defense [Cabinet] Initiative and also the European [inaudible]. Joint Strike Fighter will boost our joint capabilities to conduct a support coalition operation both within NATO and also, if the case arises, in the European framework.

In the Italian case Joint Strike Fighter will be operated from the Navy and the Air Force. Therefore we will have both sea-based and land-based air power allowing for the first time to Italy to achieve a stronger [inaudible] and logistic commonality and synergy in our offensive air power. It is a first case for Italy. It is very important.

The joint development of this system will allow the participating countries to benefit from the joint exploitation of new emerging technologies. These ambitions will thus represent both a challenge and an opportunity.

It is particularly true or certainly true for the Italian defense industry which will be in a position to gain participation both in quality and quantity commensurate to the technological and industrial capability, and to recognize the contribution by Italy to the program.

We understand the principle of competition and we share it, but at the same time we are confident and rely on significant participation by the Italian industry within the framework of the established rules for the SDD phase and to the follow-on production and support phase of this very challenging project.

The competence, the technological and industrial knowledge of the Italian aerospace and electronic companies gives is the confidence that this participation and cooperation will be highly beneficial for the announcement of our technological industrial base.

It is very important to us, certainly very important to Italian government that the industry to industry arrangements that have been agreed or are underway of being finalized form the foundation for achieving this goal.

I expect the industrial arrangements already in place or of eminent finalization will be implemented as agreed. I intend to be engaged in the verification process of this agreement. The relevance and the significance and the amount of Italian participation in this program call for nothing less.

Mutually beneficial teamwork is the key to this as well as to future projects. With the Joint Strike Fighter we look forward to establishing better effective environmental cooperation between our allied armed forces and accept the basis for more intense balance and open technological and industrial cooperation across the Atlantic. I strongly believe in this program and am proud to be here. Thank you.

[Applause]

[Pause for signing]

Aldridge: Great day.

Di Paola: Great day.

[Applause]

Aldridge: It is a great day. This is going to be a great program and I know one that's going to be a contribution to international cooperation around the world. We're just delighted to have Italy now as a full-fledged member of our team and we look forward to some great relationships as we build this terrific fighter.

I'll open it up for any questions you might have.

Q: Admiral, I'd like to ask you, you say you plan to use both versions, both the naval and the land-based version. How many do you currently anticipate buying?

Di Paola: We have not decided yet a fixed figure because is not time yet. We'll see how well the development of the program. And of course we would see when the time comes in some years saying what will be our requirement.

Certainly we are talking in numbers, I'd say if we want just to make a rough order of magnitude, probably 100 and above that number.

Q: And the breakdown between the two?

Di Paola: It's too early to say. Also will depend to see if our requirement for short takeoff vertical landing will only be for sea-based or we can have also some of them also for more conventional operations. We have to look into that so it is too early to say, but not necessarily only for sea-based will be the short takeoff vertical landing.

Q: Just to confirm, does the $1 billion investment mean a definite decision by Italy to eventually buy the aircraft? And how much is industry providing for that?

Di Paola: Well of course strictly speaking we are just participating in the MOU in the SDD phase, but if we look to what we have done to get the response, if we look to the amount of contribution we are providing for the SDD phase it would be not easy [sic] to presume that we will definitely want to acquire it.

Q: And the industry split?

Di Paola: Well, as you know this is a program which is run on a competition basis. Therefore there is not so-called cost share, working share principle applied. But from the discussion and the agreement that has been reached between our industry and the prime contractor in the United States we are confident we will get a quality and besides quantity in particular during the production phase, a return of which [inaudible] investment. I will not do figure because it would not be proper to make figure, but a certain designated fundamental aspect of our negotiation, of our discussion, certainly is a point at which our Parliament in approving the program has looked at very carefully, so we are confident we will get what it is important for our industry technology to grow, technology participation, and also industrial participation as well.

Q: Mr. Secretary, could you bring us up to date on how discussions are going with Australia, Israel and Singapore? Any thinking those countries will join or do you see this closing out after Turkey?

Aldridge: At the point when Turkey signs up we anticipate that that will be what we know today are the firm negotiations. We're still in discussions with Australia. Their Parliament, I believe, meets sometime this week to discuss whether or not they would like to enter the program. But as you know, we are moving down the track on this program very quickly. We need the industrial partners to be part of our team as soon as possible. So exactly how the Australians turn out in their decision and exactly what time they come on board is yet to be determined.

We're continuing discussions with Singapore and with Israel, but it is a different relationship than the partnership that we have currently on the Joint Strike Fighter.

Q: A question for the Admiral. So is the commitment from Italy to buy JSF or possibly to buy JSF, does that change in any way the plans for Eurofighter?

Di Paola: I am grateful for your question because the answer is very straightforward. It's been put forward many many times in Italy so I am grateful for your question.

The answer is not. We are fully engaged in the Eurofighter program. We are a major participant to that project. We have already, we are in the procurement phase of 121 Eurofighters, we will continue to that. Our plan is to have basically two major aircraft for our air power requirements. That means Eurofighter for air defense as the primary role air superiority, and the Joint Strike Fighter for defensive air power, sea-based, land-based. So that's the way we envision our fit for our air power capability in the horizon of 2016. We have firmly committed, the contract is already there. So definitely the answer is not. The two programs are complementary from operation point of view and also from industrial point of view so we are definitely engaged in the program of Eurofighter. We will continue with that.

Q: Mr. Aldridge, could you describe what kind of arrangement could be made for Israel, Singapore and possibly Australia?

Aldridge: It's truly too early to tell. We're still in negotiations. It will be some type of a partnership that will allow them to purchase the airplane later in time, but it is not of the same type of relationship that exists with our current Level 1, 2, and 3 partners. But exactly how that's going to turn out, we're still in discussions. There are certain things that Singapore would like to participate, we'd like to be able to accommodate them, but we still have to worry about the details, and the devil is in the details when you get into these negotiations so it's just too premature at this point.

Q: A question for the Admiral. Do you have any concerns that in choosing a U.S. option you might be undermining European industry's future capability to pull together a project of this size on its own?

Di Paola: No, really I am not. I think we have to dispel some wrong beliefs, what I believe to be wrong beliefs, that in participating in Joint Strike Fighter we are making a non-European choice. This is absolutely not the case.

We believe that we are fully engaged in the Eurofighter program, and the Eurofighter program represents a major industrial European project and therefore we think we are contributing tremendously to maintaining this capacity. At the same time we believe that when, it is not necessary to be ideological about the issue. We believe the Joint Strike Fighter was the best answer to our requirements for the specific [inaudible] requirement, so we are not being ideological in making the choice on one point.

Secondly, we have strongly supported the strong industry to industry relationship across the Atlantic which we believe will be beneficial for our industry and therefore if it is beneficial to industry, in the end is beneficial to European industry. So on the contrary, we believe we are doing a good choice. That said, I think it is important that European industrial base gets stronger, but it is also very important European industrial base get on a sound cooperative basis with American industrial base. We are partners not only in operation, we are partners also in technological development. I believe in a strong Europe, I believe in a strong trans-Atlantic cooperation.

Aldridge: The Admiral just described the Joint Strike Fighter program. It is truly international in its context and with the very strong international -- our European industrial participation has been negotiated between the prime contractors and European industry.

Any other questions?

Q: Just one for the Admiral. With the investment in Eurofighter and now JSF does this leave limited dollars left or say anything about your commitment for A-400M?

Di Paola: This is, you know the decision on my government, at least the decision has been taken by my government not to be engaged in the A-400M for, as it sits. So at present, A-400M is not an argument in Italian defense. The decision has been taken not to participate at least for whatever is the foreseeable future. I cannot discount that maybe sometime in the long time future we will reconsider that. For the time being is not a problem, so I don't see any interface between these two problems.

Aldridge: Last question? No more?

Thank you very much.

Di Paola: Thank you.

[Applause]

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