Japan, UK and Italy join forces on a sixth

The governments of Tokyo, London and Rome finalize the formal agreement for the development of a next-generation combat aircraft that should enter service around the year 2035. The future model will replace the current ones F-2 of the Japan Air Self Defense Forcewhich correspond to a local variant of the fighter F-16 developed jointly by the North American firm Lockheed-Martin and the local firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

The news has been revealed by Japanese government sources, who anticipate that the official signing of the alliance is expected in December, reports the local newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. The information does not specify the degree of involvement that this project may have with the program for the future British defense system that contemplates the development of the sixth generation fighter Tempestin which Italy and Sweden are also involved, although the latter showed certain disagreements this summer. In any case, Japan’s possible accession to this project has been in the offing for some time, which is a milestone for the country, which has been exclusively using combat aircraft of American origin since the end of World War II. Hence this possibility does not enjoy the sympathy of the United States.

The companies that will lead the new commitment also coincide with those of the program of the Tempest. Beside MHIas the main Japanese developer, will spearhead the initiative BAE Systems by the United Kingdom and the Italian will also be involved Leonardo. In the development of the engine that will drive the future aircraft, it will have IHI by Japan, rolls royce on the British and Italian sides airplane.

Tokyo and London already announced last May that they would present a collaboration scheme before the end of the year. Both countries, as highlighted by the Japanese media, have plans for the development of stealth-capable fighters (stealth) and technology to operate in coordination with drones, which partly defines the so-called sixth generation of combat aircraft.

export for the first time

Japan has been working on its own concept of a next-generation combat aircraft for some time within the so-called program fxwhich will give rise to the fighter plane F-3 and that set out to design without outside help. In this way, the possibility of Lockheed Martin providing technical support, which was being considered for a while, was largely ruled out because the involvement of the American company would hinder Japanese export plans for the new aircraft. And this is another of the great novelties of the program, since current Japanese laws prevent the sale of this type of combat technology outside (it can only do so in the case of equipment for rescue, transport, surveillance, control and cleaning of mines). Hence, a legislative reform is planned, in line with the aspiration of the current Government to promote the country’s defense industry with the development of new aircraft.

The announcement of the alliance of Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy around a next-generation fighter jet coincides with the unlocking that Spain, France and Germany have just sealed their own project for a future air combat system (NGWS/FCAS), after months of tense negotiations between Airbus Y Dassaultmain industrial partners of Germany and Italy.

Different authorized sources have been advocating for a long time the need to end up merging the Tempest and FCAS programs in one to really have chances of success in the international sector, both on one side and on the other.

Japan, UK and Italy join forces on a sixth-generation fighter