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In response to the Russian-Ukrainian war and China’s military threat, Japan, Britain, Italy and Germany, France and Spain will jointly develop a new generation of fighters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (front row, second from left) talks to relevant personnel during a visit to Claringsby, RAF base, on November 9, 2022. Britain has just announced that it will work with Italy and Japan on the next generation of fighters.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (front row, second from left) talks to relevant personnel during a visit to Claringsby, RAF base, on November 9, 2022. Britain has just announced that it will work with Italy and Japan on the next generation of fighters.

HSD — The governments of Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy issued a joint statement on Friday (December 9), announcing that the three countries will merge their respective next-generation fighter projects under development and work together to develop a new generation of fighters. This is the first fighter development cooperation project in history to cross Europe and Asia, and it is also the first large-scale military-industrial cooperation program with the United States after World War II.

According to the agreement signed by the three countries, Japan, Britain, and Italy will merge the “Future Air Combat System” currently developed by the United Kingdom in Europe with the FX fighter project under development in Japan to establish a new “Global Air Combat Program” (GCAP), and seek to use a jointly developed advanced first-line fighter for actual combat deployment by 2035.

Reuters pointed out in the report that Japan, Britain, and Italy announced cooperation on the development of a new generation of fighters at a time when Russia’s war of invasion of Ukraine was still continuing, and China, which was fully committed to military modernization, was increasingly increasing its military activities around Japan and Taiwan. The Triple Agreement will help Japan deal with the growing military power of China’s powerful neighbor, while also giving Britain a greater security role in the Asia-Pacific region.

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“Our commitment to a rules-based free and open international order is of particular importance at a time when these principles are increasingly challenged, threatened, and invaded,” the three leaders said in a joint statement.

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In the face of a deteriorating regional security environment, Japan will announce a significant increase in its defense budget this month, from 1% to 2% of GDP over five years.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also said that Britain needs to stay ahead of cutting-edge defense technology and that cooperation between Britain, Japan, and Italy will create new jobs.

Britain’s BAE, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Italian defense company Leonardo will lead the design of a new generation of fighters with advanced digital control capabilities in artificial intelligence and cyber warfare, Japan’s Defense Ministry said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry also said that the European Missile Group (MBDA) and Japanese avionics equipment manufacturer Mitsubishi Electronics will also participate in the joint research and development project; Rolls-Royce, Japan’s Ishikawajima Corporation (IHI), and Italy’s Avio Aero will jointly develop engines for the next generation of fighters.

However, although the three countries have signed cooperation agreements, they have not yet made arrangements for some details of the cooperation projects, including the workload shared by each country and the specific location of research and development.

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Reuters quoted sources as saying that Britain also asked Japan to strictly conduct safety reviews of contractors involved in fighter development.

The British government said that other countries, including the United States, are also likely to participate in the trilateral cooperation project between Britain, Japan, and Italy, and the new generation of fighters developed will replace the Typhoon fighter and complement the F-35 fighter. A new generation of fighters matched with those of other NATO members.

A few days before Japan, Britain and Italy announced the joint development of a new generation of fighters, French, German, and Spanish military enterprises also announced that the development of another new generation of fighters has entered a new stage. The new fighter is expected to be deployed in combat by 2040.

The United States has pledged to assist in the defense of Britain, Italy, and Japan under the NATO and the U.S.-Japan Security Pact, and welcomes the joint development of a new generation of fighters.

“The United States supports Japan’s security and defense cooperation with like-minded allies and partners, including the United Kingdom and Italy,” said a joint statement issued by the U.S. Department of Defense and Japan’s Defense Ministry.

Japan had originally planned to develop its own next-generation fighter with the assistance of Lockheed Martin, which had also proposed the use of the F-22 airframe and the F-35 flight system. But rumors say that the U.S. reluctance to share key technologies with Japan has forced Japan to seek joint research and development with European countries.

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