The United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan are joining forces to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet.
The three countries announced their decision to work together on the Global Combat Air Program.
The three countries are looking to combine their expertise in the defense and aerospace industries in order to deliver a “step change” in air power.
A Sixth Generation Fighter Jet
In their joint statement, the three countries stated that they aim to have an aircraft ready “to take to the skies by 2035.”
The sixth-generation fighter jet will have a wide range of capabilities, including an unmanned aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge data systems, and modern weapon systems. In that regard, the aircraft will be similar to the U.S. Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, which is currently under development and aims to produce a family of manned and unmanned aircraft, including a fighter jet with similar capabilities as those stated by the U.K., Italy, and Japan.
“This international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next-generation of Combat Aircraft, represents the best collaboration of cutting edge defence technology and expertise shared across our nations, providing highly skilled jobs across the sector and long-term security for Britain and our allies,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Long in the Works
Earlier in the year, reports had revealed that the U.K. and Japan were looking to combine their sixth-generation fighter jets programs by the end of the year. The joint announcement proved that the reporting was accurate.
The Japanese F-X program was aiming to have a test aircraft ready by 2028, while the British Tempest program was looking for a prototype ready by 2027. It remains to be seen if the new partnership will keep a similar timeline and produce a test aircraft before the end of the decade and achieve full production by the early 2030s.
An International Partnership
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak celebrated the deal among the three countries, highlighting that it will herald a new era for British and European aviation.
“The security of the United Kingdom, both today and for future generations, will always be of paramount importance to this Government. That’s why we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence technology – outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm,” Sunak said in a statement.
This is the first time Japan is working with a foreign partner besides the U.S. in the development of a fighter jet. The U.K. is the closest ally of the U.S., and the U.K., Italy, and Japan all worked with the U.S. on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The Global Combat Air Program is set to produce an aircraft that will be compatible with other NATO current and future fighter jets.
“The international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible. The next-generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives,” the British Prime Minister added.