UPDATED 12:27 PM PT – Friday, December 9, 2022
On Friday morning, Japan announced that they will work together with Britain and Italy to develop the next generation of fighter jets. This comes as it looks to expand defense cooperation beyond the United States.
The three nations announced the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) and the planned Mitsubishi F-X fighter jet which will replace Japan’s aging F-2. The F-2 had previously been developed alongside the United States.
“We are announcing the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) – an ambitious endeavor to develop a next-generation fighter aircraft by 2035,” British, Japanese and Italian leaders said in a joint statement.
The development on the new fleet of aircrafts is set to start in 2024 and is expected to be ready for deployment in 2035.
Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that the new aircraft will be a stealth fighter with capabilities such as advanced censors and networking. The new aircraft will be beyond the American F-35 and the multinational European Eurofighter jet.
This deal will allow Japan to have greater countering capabilities to China in the region. It will also allow Britain to have a bigger presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The announcement came days after Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had set spending targets to build up his country’s military. One of his targeted included a boost in defense spending over the next five years.
In a joint statement with the Japanese Defense Ministry released on Friday, the Pentagon gave their full support to the three nations.
“The United States supports Japan’s security and defense cooperation with likeminded allies and partners, including with the United Kingdom and Italy – two close partners of both of our countries – on the development of its next fighter aircraft,” the US-Japan statement said.
This announcement comes amid increased tensions with China, Russia and North Korea. Russia and China are allegedly thought to be pursuing a sixth-generation aircraft.