The United Kingdom (UK), Japan and Italy have signed a treaty to begin the construction of a new next generation stealth fighter jet.
The three countries confirmed on December 14, 2023, that the international treaty sets out a future combat air program, with development of a 6th generation stealth fighter jet central to the agreement.
The advanced fighter jet will be built with supersonic capabilities and equipped with cutting-edge technology and will become a formidable force in global security.
The latest announcement follows the establishment of the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) in December 2022, in which the UK, Italy and Japan first set out a plan to build a new fighter jet.
The program will be headed in the UK and the first combat air aircraft is due to take to the skies by 2035.
In a statement the three countries said that the new fighter “aims to harness next-generation technologies and become one of the world’s most advanced, interoperable, adaptable and connected fighter jets in service globally”.
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 construction will be carried out by the UK firm BAE Systems, Leonardo from Italy and the Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Other collaborators include Rolls-Royce.
“We welcome the agreement signed by the governments of Italy, Japan and the UK today, and the continued progress with our industrial partners to advance the future joint business construct that will enable us to deliver the next generation combat aircraft. We’re proud to represent the UK on this exciting and forward-leaning partnership, which will deliver a crucial and affordable defense capability and help to maintain our sovereign combat air skills in the UK,” Herman Claesen, Managing Director, Future Combat Air Systems, BAE Systems’ Air sector, said.
The joint GCAP government headquarters will be hosted in the UK and the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will come from Japan. In addition, the future business construct will also be headquartered in the UK and the first leader will be from Italy.
“Our world-leading combat aircraft program aims to be crucial to global security and we continue to make hugely positive progress toward delivery of the new jets to our respective air forces in 2035. The UK-based headquarters will also see us make important decisions collaboratively and at pace, working with our close partners Italy and Japan, and our impressive defense industries, to deliver an outstanding aircraft,” the UK’s Defense Secretary, Grant Shapps said.
The joint development phase of the program is due to be launched in 2025.