Eurofighter Is The Backbone of European Defence 

Giancarlo Mezzanatto was appointed CEO of Eurofighter in May 2023. He had held a series of senior roles in Leonardo, most recently as SVP European Military Programmes. He is no stranger to Eurofighter, having previously held the position of COO Programmes.

Can you briefly talk about your vision for Eurofighter and if that has changed during your first six months as CEO? 

In my first six months as CEO I may have adjusted the tactics, but certainly my vision for Eurofighter has not changed.

Typhoon remains the backbone of European defence and a fundamental asset for our core customers in the new military reality which has developed following the invasion of Ukraine. The product vision is to keep Typhoon operationally effective for another 30 to 40 years, ensuring the rapid embodiment of those capabilities and technologies necessary to operate in the new battle scenarios and to be fully interoperable with the other NATO assets.

The Eurofighter programme has played a pivotal role in fostering the fighter industry in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain and will continue to do so for many years to come. It has given our nations the skills, resources, assets and industrial capability to design, produce, test and deliver fighter aircraft. Today, more than 400 companies are involved in the Eurofighter programme, which supports and sustains around 100,000 jobs. 

In my vision, the Eurofighter collaboration programme represents a solid base and a path to the future for the European fighter industry. This is, in turn, strategically fundamental to strengthen an independent European defence policy.

What have been your strategic priorities since taking office, and how do these align with your long-term vision for the programme? 

Since taking office, my main strategic priorities have included: delivering the 10-year Capability Plan endorsed by the last Ministerial Meeting; designing the future of Typhoon to maintain its operational relevance in the coming decades; providing first-class logistic support to customers, and finally, supporting all new campaigns to sell additional aircraft and expand our customer base.

The first two are linked to our long-term vision for the product. The third is essential to fulfil our mission to deliver an operational advantage to our customers in Europe and in the Middle East. All of them are fundamental to sustaining the industrial vision of the Eurofighter programme, now and in the future.

Reflecting on your first six months as CEO, what have been your initial impressions of the state of the industry?

I have known the Eurofighter model, with its strengths and weaknesses, for a long time. The spirit of collaboration of the four Partner Companies remains very strong as does the will to find common solutions to meet new requirements.

Moreover, the collaboration with the NATO agency NETMA in the so-called Munich campus is stronger than ever, and we are working together on the same 10-year plan with the Core Nations and our Partner Companies.

We are also strengthening the collaboration with the entire supply chain to make sure that all suppliers are ready to sustain the development of the platform and the new production orders. 

With new programmes starting off, the shortage of skilled resources in critical disciplines, like avionics, HMI, weapon integration and others, might certainly become an issue. This needs smart management by industry to transform this challenge into an opportunity and pave the way for the development of a new generation of highly skilled engineers and managers. 

What do you believe sets Eurofighter apart from its competitors, and how well placed is it to maintain or even enhance its competitive edge?

Air superiority plays an essential role in any battle space and this is where Typhoon can really stand out from its competitors. With its air-to-air capabilities, thanks to Beyond Visual Range missiles like Meteor, enhanced by an E-SCAN radar equipped with Antenna re-positioner, Typhoon is extremely powerful in this context.

Typhoon has already proved to be the most advanced European swing-role platform able to perform air-to-air and air-to-surface roles in the same mission. Future developments will include more powerful sensors with electronic attack capabilities, while the evolution of the DASS system will enhance its survivability in threatening and contested scenarios. 

The Long Term Evolution of Typhoon will exploit increased data processing capacities and the evolution of the cockpit and the Striker II helmet, already contracted, will provide the pilots with new display technologies and improved situational awareness.

What are the geo-political changes or market trends that will have the most significant impact on Eurofighter in the coming years, and how in your view will the business respond? 

War in Ukraine and the Russian threat have completely changed the geo-political picture. Countries on the Eastern flank of NATO are increasing their defence budgets and are aiming to modernise their air defences. 

On the other hand, western air forces need to increase their capacity to deploy rapidly to different bases. This is increasing the pressure on the logistic support system and consequently on the entire supply chain.

We consider Middle East a key market and we believe we have real opportunities to further enhance our presence there.

Within NATO, the significance of conducting combined operations continues to grow. Consequently, interoperability and communications have become essential requirements for every air force.

Eurofighter GmbH and its Partner Companies stand ready to support their customer base in this critical phase and to offer Typhoon capabilities to potential customers. 

Given Eurofighter is exhibiting at Dubai Air Show, how important is the Middle East region for Eurofighter and what do you think the future holds? 

About 20 per cent of the current Eurofighter orders come from Middle East countries. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman are important customers for the programme and are also contributing to its capabilities development.  

Eurofighter Nations and Partner Companies acting as Prime Contractors in the Middle East are developing real partnerships and collaboration with these countries and Eurofighter GmbH is fully supporting them. 

We consider Middle East a key market and we believe we have real opportunities to further enhance our presence there.

Our participation at the Dubai Air Show shows the commitment of Eurofighter GmbH and of our Partner Companies to support Typhoon customers in this region and to further strengthen our collaboration in the future.