A FRESH deal signed with the Italian government has provided a new boost for air defence workers in East Lancashire.

Engineers at BAE in Samlesbury will be working closely with their Italian counterparts on projects including the Typhoon and Tempest, the unmanned prototype fighter.

The announcement follows a similar deal with the Swedish government and industry, confirmed at the Royal Military Air Tattoo last month.

BAE, alongside Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA are partners in Team Tempest, and have signed a statement of intent with Italian outfits such as Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy.

Charles Woodburn, BAE's chief executive, said: "Our proven record of successful collaboration with Italian industry makes us certain this partnership between our two nations is a strong fit for Tempest and demonstrates the growing momentum behind this important international endeavour.

"This announcement will expand existing partnerships with MBDA and Leonardo, which are central to our work in unleashing the full potential of Typhoon, as together we develop future combat air technologies to the benefit of both nations."

A joint study had indicated how the UK and Italians could be successful partners, as they already had Eurofighters and F-35s in their fleet.

Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo's chief executive, added: "This agreement is an essential next step for this exciting and strategically important programme. I'm confident...as each day I see how UK and Italian engineers, working together, achieve incredible things."