Aerial Warfare

Defense Ministers from Italy Japan and UK to Meet in Tokyo for Next-generation Fighter Jet

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Defense Ministers from Italy Japan and UK to Meet in Tokyo for Next-generation Fighter Jet

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UK Team Tempest to Play Key Role in New Global Combat Air Programme
UK Team Tempest to Play Key Role in New Global Combat Air Programme

Japan, Britain and Italy are planning to hold a defense ministerial meeting in Tokyo next monthin which their plan for joint development of a next-generation fighter jet is expected to be discussed, sources close to the matter said Monday. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his British and Italian counterparts, Ben Wallace and Guido Crosetto, are also likely to discuss cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, where China has been intensifying military activities, the sources said. In December last year, the three countries’ leaders agreed to jointly develop a state-of-the-art warplane by around 2035, as the global security environment has become more severe due largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For Japan’s part, the three-way project with the two NATO members is the first development of defense equipment with nations other than its security ally the United States. The defense chiefs of Japan, Britain and Italy may also enter into discussions to explore the possibility of exporting the new fighter jet to other countries, the sources said. To facilitate weapon exports in the future, the Japanese government said in its National Security Strategy, updated in December, that it will consider reviewing the nation’s strict guidelines regarding exporting defense equipment to other countries. The administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been eager to amend, in April or later, the stringent rules that have long been maintained under Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

Italy, Japan and Britain see significant value in a common approach to next-generation combat air capabilities.An artist’s rendering of a next-generation fighter jet to be jointly developed by Japan, Britain and Italy, (Japan MoD image)

In the UK, around 2,500 people are already working on the programme as part of Team Tempest and wider industry. Beyond the Team Tempest partners, more than 580 organisations are already on contract across the UK, including 91 SMEs and 26 academic institutions. The UK’s sovereign industry partners, under Team Tempest, will support the significant endeavour announced today by the Governments of the UK, Japan and Italy, which will see the three nations build a truly international programme, with a shared ambition to develop a next generation fighter aircraft under a new Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

The industry partners have already generated strong working relationships with their counterparts in Italy and Japan, which will progress into the new joint development. These include IHI Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, and Avio Aero, Elettronica and Leonardo in Italy.The joint announcement highlights the close government, military and industrial links between the nations and reinforces the UK’s international commitment to future combat air. The programme will build on the substantial progress already made in the UK by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce and the UK Ministry of Defence who have been working in partnership since 2018 as Team Tempest to research, evaluate and develop a host of next generation future combat air systems capabilities.

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