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UK, Italy and Japan to work on sixth-gen fighter

written by Adam Thorn | December 12, 2022

The UK, Italy and Japan will work together to develop a new sixth-generation fighter jet.

It’s hoped the aircraft, currently known as ‘Tempest’, would be ready by 2035 and will, in particular, replace Britain’s fleet of Typhoons.

The aircraft will form part of a trilateral collaboration initiative between the three countries, which will also include developing uncrewed aircraft and next-gen weapons technology. It will be led by BAE Systems, Leonardo, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The ‘Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP)’ could reportedly be open to other “like-minded countries”, with the future aircraft expected to be compatible with fighter jets operated by NATO partners.


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who announced the first phase of the program at Royal Air Force Coningsby on Saturday (10 December), said the GCAP would help shore up the UK’s defences into the future.

“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 defence technology — outpacing and outmanoeuvring those who seek to do us harm,” he said.

“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 defence industry — creating jobs while saving lives.”

The UK, Italy and Japan are now expected to commence work to establish the core platform concept before launching the development phase in 2025.

“This international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next-generation of combat aircraft, represents the best collaboration of cutting-edge defence technology and expertise shared across our nations, providing highly skilled jobs across the sector and long-term security for Britain and our allies,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

It comes after the US unveiled its sixth generation B-21 Raider to the world for the first time earlier this month.

The dramatic ceremony at Palmdale, California, which you can watch here, represented the first time it had been seen outside artists’ impressions and the first unveiling of a new US bomber in more than 30 years.

The B-21 is the ‘sequel’ to the iconic, UFO-like B-2 Spirit and is designed to strike deep behind enemy lines with its 9,500-km range, 15-tonne payload and advanced stealth capabilities.

“The world has never seen technology like what Northrop Grumman developed for our B-21,” said developer Northrop Grumman.

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