Italian industry prepares for next phase of 6th Generation Air System

A render of a 6th generation fighter jet for Global Combat Air Programme.
Image Credit: BAE Systems
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

LONDON – The team of Italian companies participating in the development of the new Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) have signed a contract to support the Italian Ministry of Defense in the programme’s new concept & assessment phase.

The Global Combat Air Programme was officially started in December 2021, with initial funding allocated by the Ministry of Defence.

The Italian team


The team comprises Leonardo – as a strategic partner – and Italy’s leading companies in their respective domains: Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italia.

It will now progress technology development in support of the GCAP “system of systems” concept, based on sixth-generation combat air platforms operating in multi-domain scenarios.

Industry will collaborate with universities, research centres, SMEs and start-ups, allowing for the exchange of knowledge and growth of skills at a national level, all in close partnership with the Italian Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry will be responsible for defining operational needs and directing technological development, drawing on industry support. 

Partnership comments


CEO’s for each respective Italian team organisation spoke with respect to the significance of the new phase of the program.

Alessandro ProfumoChief Executive Officer at Leonardo said: “This new phase is a crucial step in the process of identifying and making available the innovative technologies that will ensure our defence capabilities make the necessary generational, technological and operational leap forward.”

Enzo BenigniChairman and CEO of Elettronica said: “With the launch of this new phase of the GCAP programme, we are developing a plan for technology and industry that will move Italy’s technology sector from the Typhoon era, the last major European combat air development programme, into a new era of combat air underpinned by sixth-generation capabilities.

Riccardo ProcacciCEO of Avio Aero said: “Today’s challenging geopolitical context requires technological solutions that focus on operational excellence and the ability to adapt to future scenarios.”

“The GCAP programme is responding to this need and will support the requirements of the Armed Forces while guaranteeing strategic autonomy

Lorenzo MarianiExecutive Group Director Sales and Business Development at MBDA Group and CEO of MBDA Italia, said: “The ability to counter the most challenging threats will be a key element of the performance of a sixth-generation combat air system.”

In support of the GCAP programme, Italy has already earmarked 6 billion Euros for investment in research and development that will allow for the launch of technology development projects in areas of strategic interest. These will allow Italy’s national industry to participate in the future development phases of the system-of-systems. 

This initiative is also laying the groundwork for further international collaboration in the development of technologies relating to sixth-generation combat air platforms.

In support of this goal, companies have already begun to invest in research, to activate collaborations with universities and to support technology incubators in the innovation sector by promoting the most promising ones nationally and internationally.

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