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UK Japan, and Italy sign international stealth fighter treaty

The UK has signed an international Treaty with Japan and Italy for a future combat air programme that aims to develop an innovative stealth fighter with supersonic capability and equipped with cutting-edge technology.

The treaty marks a key stage of the landmark Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). The headquarters of the program will be based in Britain. Within the UK, the effort is being led by BAE Systems, in close partnership with Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA UK as well as hundreds of companies in the supply chain from across the country. Together, they are working closely with lead companies from Japan and Italy to progress the design and development of this aircraft.

The future fighter, due to take to the skies by 2035, aims to harness next-generation technologies and become one of the world’s most advanced, interoperable, adaptable and connected fighter jets in service globally, says the UK Ministry of Defence. The program is expected to create highly skilled jobs in the UK and in partner countries over the next decade and beyond.

The supersonic stealth jet will boast a powerful radar that can provide 10,000 times more data than current systems, giving a battle-winning advantage.

The UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps met with his Japanese and Italian counterparts, Minister Minoru Kihara and Minister Guido Crosetto, in Tokyo for the signing. This comes a year after the formal launch of GCAP and highlights the positive progress in the development of this next-generation fighter jet. The joint development phase of the program is due to launch in 2025.

The treaty confirmed the UK will host the joint GCAP government headquarters, supporting hundreds of UK jobs and working with Japanese and Italian colleagues. The first CEO will come from Japan. The HQ will be responsible for delivering vital military capability, strengthening each country’s combat air industrial capability, and achieving value for money.

Separately, a new joint business construct will be headquartered in the UK, with significant global presence. This industry counterpart of the Government organisation will oversee support and timely delivery of the program, including the 2035 in-service date of the combat aircraft which will be known as Tempest in the UK. The first leader of the joint business construct will be from Italy.

There are already around 3,000 people in major combat air hubs across the UK, including the south-west and north-west of England and Edinburgh, with almost 600 organisations on contract across the country, including SMEs and academic institutions.

In combat air, the MoD says it has spent £2 billion ($3.8 billion) in the UK over the last 5 years on technology, creating skills and capabilities – with a further £600 million from industry – to ensure the UK is ready to drive this program forward.

“It is another demonstration of our commitment to Indo-Pacific security, following the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group in 2021, with a further deployment coming in 2025, as well as the Navy maintaining a persistent presence in the region through HMS Spey and HMS Tamar,” said Minister Shapps.

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