Italy considers joining Japan’s F-X fighter jet program

Japanese Defense Ministry

During a visit to Japan to meet with his Japanese counterpart, the Italian Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini expressed interest in joining the development of the Japanese F-X fighter jet.

Japan’s next-generation fighter jet will replace the Mitsubishi F-2, a Japanese version of the F-16, currently operated by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force. It should be a twin-engine stealth fighter which will include the research done on the experimental X-2 Shinshin, a canceled fifth-generation fighter jet program. In November 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) was awarded the leadership of the F-X program. 

Italy, together with the United Kingdom and Sweden, is currently working on the Tempest. The project involves the British companies BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, the European missile manufacturer MBDA, and the Italian defense group Leonardo.

It is not the first time that more coordination between the two programs has been suggested. In December 2021, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that the United Kingdom and Japan would jointly study the development of a jet engine demonstrator for the next generation of fighter jets. It remains to be seen, however, what Italy joining forces with Japan would mean for its participation in the Tempest project.


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