Japan, UK and Italy to jointly build jet fighter

TOKYO/LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Japan, Britain and Italy are merging their next-generation jet fighter programs in a groundbreaking partnership spanning Europe and Asia, marking Japan’s first World War II For the first time since the Great War, major industrial defense cooperation has begun outside the United States.

The deal aims to bring the advanced front-line fighter into service by 2035 by combining the UK-led Future Combat Air System project, also known as Tempest, with Japan’s FX project, Reuters reported in July. The three countries said in a statement on Friday that the Aviation Plan (GCAP).

Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s increased military activity around Japan and Taiwan, the deal could help Japan counter the growing military power of its larger neighbor and give Britain a stronghold in a region that is a key driver of the global economy Play a greater role in security growth.

“Our commitment to a rules-based, free and open international order is more than ever at a time when those principles are being questioned, threats and aggression are on the rise,” the three countries said in a joint leaders’ statement. important” .

Amid what it sees as deteriorating security in the region, Japan this month will announce a military buildup that is expected to double defense spending to about 2% of gross domestic product within five years.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak separately said his country needed to remain at the cutting edge of defense technology and the deal would provide new jobs.

Britain’s BAE Systems PLC (BAES.L), Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) and Italy’s Leonardo (LDOF.MI) will lead the design of the aircraft, which will be manually operated, according to Japan’s foreign ministry. Advanced digital capabilities or defenses in terms of intelligence and cyber warfare.

NATO compatible

European missile maker MBDA and avionics maker Mitsubishi Electric Corp (6503.T) will also join the project. Rolls-Royce PLC (RROYC.UL), IHI Corp (7013.T) and Avio Aero will be responsible for developing the engine, the ministry added.

However, the three countries have yet to confirm some details of how the project will proceed, including work shares and development locations.

Britain also wants Japan to improve the way it provides security clearances to contractors who will work on the planes, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Other countries could also join the project, Britain said, adding that the fighter jet would replace its Typhoon fighter jets and complement its F-35 Lightning fleet, and would be compatible with fighter jets flown by other NATO partners.

The confirmation of the plan comes days after firms in France, Germany and Spain received confirmation for the next phase of a competing plan to build a next-generation fighter that could enter service from 2040.

The United States has pledged to defend the three countries by joining NATO and entering into a separate security pact with Japan, and it has also welcomed the EU-Japan joint agreement.

“The United States supports Japan’s security and defense cooperation with like-minded allies and partners, including the United Kingdom and Italy,” the Pentagon said in a joint statement with Japan’s defense ministry.

Japan initially considered building its next-generation fighter jet with help from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), which has proposed a system that combines the airframe of the F-22 with the flight system of the F-35 fighter jet. airplane.

Reporting by Tim Kelly in Tokyo, Nobuhiro Kubo and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Robert Bersell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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