Japan, Britain and Italy have said they would jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet in a project that held scope for future cooperation with allies including the United States.
The new jet, to be ready by 2035, is expected to merge the nations’ current research into cutting-edge air combat technology, from stealth capacity to high-tech sensors.
In a joint statement, the three countries said the “ambitious endeavour” would “accelerate our advanced military capability and technological advantage” at a time when “threats and aggression are increasing” worldwide.
Their announcement was accompanied by a set of images showing an artist’s impression of the sleek new jets flying past Mount Fuji and over London and Rome.
They did not give a cost estimate, but the three countries were already pouring billions of dollars into fighter jet development, efforts that would come together under the joint project, called the Global Combat Air Programme.
“We share (an) ambition for this aircraft to be the centrepiece of a wider combat air system that will function across multiple domains,” the statement said.
That includes “future interoperability with the United States, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and with our partners” in Europe, Asia and worldwide, it explained.
The US Department of Defence said it supported the project in a separate joint statement with Japan’s defence ministry.
“We have begun important collaboration through a series of discussions on autonomous systems capabilities, which could complement Japan’s next fighter program among other platforms,” the US-Japan statement said.
Britain had already been working with Italy on a future fighter jet project called Tempest, launched to great fanfare in 2018.
The objective was to develop by 2035 a twin-engined stealth aircraft that could be operated manned or unmanned, could not be detected by radar, and would boast features such as laser-directed weapons and a virtual cockpit.