Britain, Japan and Italy have signed an international treaty to establish a programme aimed at developing an advanced fighter jet, the defence ministers announced on Thursday.
The agreement, a culmination of a year-long collaboration, follows the merging of separate next-generation fighter initiatives between London and Tokyo. The ambitious project aims to develop an advanced fighter jet, with the goal of having the aircraft in flight by 2035. The joint development phase is slated to commence in 2025, pending parliamentary ratification in each participating country.
Both the Global Combat Air Programme’s (GCAP) government and industry headquarters will be based in Britain. Japan will contribute the inaugural chief executive to the government organisation, while Italy will provide the first leader for the business counterpart.
“No nation can do this alone to this level of expertise combined with our skills and our equipment, with our design and ability on production lines,” British defence minister Grant Shapps said.
“As we face the most complex security environment since World War Two… securing aerial superiority continues to be a crucial challenge that we must achieve,” Japan’s defence minister, Minoru Kihara, added, flanked by Shapps and Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto in Tokyo.
The supersonic stealth jet is poised to feature a radar system capable of providing 10,000 times more data than current systems, enhancing its capabilities. Major players in the project include BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce from the UK, Leonardo from Italy, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, IHI Corp, and Avio Aero from Japan.