GCAP: Japan, UK, Italy to develop a new generation fighter

Steph Deschamps / December 9, 2022

Japan will collaborate with the United Kingdom and Italy to develop a next-generation fighter jet by 2035, the three countries announced Friday.
Tokyo, London and Rome will launch "an ambitious effort to develop a next-generation combat aircraft" under a program called GCAP (Global Combat Air Programme), the governments said.
The collaboration, which will build on research already launched by the three partners in advanced air combat technologies such as unmanned aircraft, marks Japan's first association with European partners to design a combat aircraft.
Details on the cost of the project have not yet been finalized, according to a Japanese defense ministry official, who said production is expected to begin around 2030 or 2031 in order to deploy a prototype by 2035.
When you look at other countries, the United States has the F-35 and Europe has the Eurofighter. We will of course aim to create fighter aircraft that exceed the capabilities of these models," added the official.
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Leonardo are expected to be at the center of the project, according to information from the Japanese business daily Nikkei.
"We are determined to defend the free, open and rules-based international order, which is more important than ever at a time when these principles are being challenged and threats and aggression are increasing," the three countries said in a statement.
Since it is crucial to defend our democracy, economy and security and to  protect regional stability, we need strong defence and security partnerships, underpinned and reinforced by a credible deterrent," they added.
Japan, whose defense strategy is heavily dependent on its U.S. ally, is seeking to drastically increase its defense capabilities to address the growing threats it feels on its borders, from North Korea to China to Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
Tokyo announced this week that it plans to increase its military spending by 56% over the period 2023-2027, compared to the previous five fiscal years, and to raise its defense budget to 2% of the national GDP by 2027, compared to a maximum of 1% until now. 
Such a goal is controversial in this country, which has had a pacifist constitution since 1947 and which greatly limits the means and missions of its "Self-Defence Forces" (the name of its army).
Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy say they have designed the GCAP program as a basis for cooperation with other countries, emphasizing in their statement its "future interoperability with the United States, Nato and our partners across Europe, the Indo-Pacific and globally.
"The United States supports Japan's security and defense cooperation with like-minded allies and partners ... in the development of its next fighter aircraft," said a joint statement from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
The two countries are discussing "autonomous systems" that could be complementary to the Japanese fighter project and have agreed to "begin concrete cooperation in the coming year", allowing "joint responses to future threats" in the Asia-Pacific region, the statement added.
The future fighter is seen as a successor to the Japanese Mitsubishi F-2, designed with the American Lockheed Martin and put into service in 2000.
Its development should incorporate the advances of the Tempest fighter project, led by the United Kingdom, and a pre-prototype of which is announced "within the next five years". 
An agreement has also been signed in recent weeks between France's Dassault and Europe's Airbus to relaunch the costly and complex SCAF European fighter jet project, launched in 2017 and supposed to replace France's Rafale and Germany's and Spain's Eurofighter jets by 2040.
      HTML Image as link