An international aerospace coalition has been established between the UK, Japan and Italy for the development of next-generation fighter jets.
The Prime Minister will visit a UK RAF base to launch the first major phase of the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP), which aims to harness the combined expertise and strength of the countries’ defense technology industries to design an aircraft that will replace the Typhoon when it comes out of service.
Due to take to the skies by 2035, the ambition is for this to be a next-generation jet enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons and innovative data systems.
By combining forces with Italy and Japan on the next phase of the program, the UK will utilize its expertise, share costs and ensure the RAF remains interoperable with its closest partners.
A 2021 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested the UK taking a core role in a combat air system could support an average of 21,000 jobs a year and contribute an estimated £26.2 billion to the economy by 2050.
“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 defense technology – outpacing and out-maneuvring those who seek to do us harm,” said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “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 defense industry – creating jobs while saving lives.”
It is anticipated that more likeminded countries may buy into GCAP in due course or collaborate on wider capabilities – boosting UK exports. The combat aircraft developed through GCAP is also expected to be compatible with other NATO partners’ fighter jets.
The UK, Italy and Japan will now work to establish the core platform concept and set up the structures needed to deliver this defense project, ready to launch the development phase in 2025.
Ahead of the development phase, partners will also agree the cost-sharing arrangements based on a joint assessment of costs and national budgets.
Alongside the development of the core future combat aircraft with Italy and Japan, the UK will assess its needs on any additional capabilities, for example weapons and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
“This international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next-generation of Combat Aircraft, represents the best collaboration of cutting edge defense technology and expertise shared across our nations, providing highly skilled jobs across the sector and long-term security for Britain and our allies,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.