U.K., Japan, Italy team up to create next-generation fighter jet

The United Kingdom, Japan and Italy are joining forces to create a jet fighter that will merge their next-generation plans into a single air combat system. The Global Combat Air Program partnership is expected to roll out its new jet by 2035.

British officials said the jet will feature a network of new capabilities, including cutting-edge weapons, advanced sensors and enhanced data systems. When it comes into service, the fighter will replace the Typhoon, which has been at the center of air defense missions in the U.K. for two decades.

“The international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next generation of combat aircraft represents the best collaboration of cutting-edge defense technology and expertise across our nations,” British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement.

The jet fighter plan comes amid heightened tensions in Europe and Asia amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing military power and bellicose actions throughout the region.

Officials in Washington said they’re firmly behind the new Global Combat Air Program partnership, saying it won’t negatively affect any program the U.S. is part of, such as AUKUS, the security pact among Australia, the U.K. and U.S.

“The United States and Japan are bolstering our defense cooperation in a number of promising areas, particularly in advancing opportunities for joint research, development, testing and evaluation,” the Pentagon said Thursday in a joint statement with Japan’s Defense Ministry. “Together, 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.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the U.K. needs to remain at the cutting edge of advancements in defense technology to ensure the security of his nation. 

“The next-generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defense industry,” Mr. Sunak said in a statement.

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Mike Glenn