3 Nations Team Up on 'Ambitious' Fighter Jet

UK, Japan, Italy will develop 6th-generation GCAP warplane
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2022 9:06 AM CST
3 Nations Team Up on 'Ambitious' Fighter Jet
An artist's rendering of the aircraft.   (Japan Ministry of Defense, via CNN)

A new warplane is in the works, and Britain, Italy, and Japan are the countries behind it. CNN reports that development will soon be underway on a sixth-generation fighter jet under the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP), an "ambitious endeavor" to fend off increasing "threats and aggression," per a joint statement from the three nations. Though they're not naming names, it's thought they are referring to Russia and China, which are also believed to be planning a sixth-gen fighter jet. The GCAP jet will be "enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons, and innovative data systems," according to a separate statement from the UK government, which notes the plane is expected to go into production in 2024 and take to the skies in 2035.

Spearheading the plane's design will be the UK's BAE Systems, Italy's Leonardo, and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, reports Reuters. The project will be Japan's "first major industrial [defense] collaboration beyond the United States since World War Two," per the news outlet, which adds that its participation in this initiative "may help Japan counter the growing military might of its bigger [neighbor]." The nations' joint statement noted that working together as a team would "deepen our defense cooperation, science and technology collaboration, integrated supply chains, and further strengthen our defense industrial base," as well as add jobs in all three countries. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the deal, noting it will help the nations in "outpacing and outmaneuvering those who seek to do us harm," per the Guardian.

What does the US think about all of this? "The United States supports Japan's security and defense cooperation with likeminded allies and partners, including with the United Kingdom and Italy," a joint statement from the Pentagon and Japan's Defense Ministry says, per CNN. Meanwhile, this trio of nations isn't the only one thinking ahead on the warplane front: Reuters notes that last month, France, Germany, and Spain made a deal to begin the next phase of development on the FCAS fighter jet, said to be "Europe's largest [defense] project," with a price tag of $103.4 billion. The US also has a sixth-generation fighter jet—under the Next-Generation Air Dominance program—in development. (More fighter jet stories.)

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