The UK has officially announced a collaboration with Italy and Japan around the next generation Tempest jet fighter.
The technology is being developed by BAe Systems in the UK and Leonardo in Italy alongside technology for uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors and innovative data systems to be operational by 2035.
The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) is a new partnership that is ‘unprecedented’, says Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister. Japan is reported to have joined the partnership over concerns over access to the source code for the fighter.
Alternative fighter platforms in the US such as the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) programme F-35 and F-22 aircraft would block access to the source code. Similarly the Future Combat Air System is moving to the first prototype stage with Dassault representing France, Airbus Defence and Space representing Germany and Indra representing Spain. This aims to be in the air by 2027.
“All industry partners of the Future Combat Air System have now signed the respective agreements in order to launch the program’s next phase, the demonstrator phase 1B,” said Airbus CEO Mike Schoellhorn last week.
For the GCAP aircraft, the UK, Italy and Japan say they will now work intensively to establish the core platform concept and set up the structures needed to launch the development phase in 2025. Ahead of the development phase, partners will also agree the cost-sharing arrangements based on a joint assessment of costs and national budgets.
“The international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan [underlines] that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible,” said Sunak. “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 defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives.
GCAP plans to offer access to the Tempest fighter, which is expected to be compatible with the FCAS and NGAD. The new combat aircraft designed by GCAP is expected to replace the Typhoon (previously called EuroFighter) when it comes out of service.