UK, Italy, Japan Sign Treaty to Develop Stealth Fighter

The Global Combat Air Program aims to have the next-gen, supersonic fighter jet operational by 2035.

Defense leaders from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan have signed a treaty to develop a stealth fighter with supersonic capability and a radar able to provide 10,000 times more data than current systems. [Courtesy: British Ministry of Defense]

The United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan have entered into an international treaty to develop a stealth fighter with supersonic capability and a radar able to provide 10,000 times more data than current systems, the governments announced Thursday.

The agreement was signed by U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, Japan defense minister Minoru Kihara, and Italy defense minister Guido Crosetto in Tokyo, coming one year after the formation of the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP). 

[Courtesy: Ministero Difesa/ Italian Ministry of Defense]

Through the collaboration, the three countries will share in the design and delivery of the stealth fighter, which they say will boost their individual combat air industrial capabilities.

"Treaty signed," Shapps said on X (formerly Twitter). "Working with our Italian and Japanese allies, we will build the supersonic stealth fighter we need to combat the threats of a more dangerous age."

Shapps said in a statement: "Our world-leading combat aircraft programme 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." 

[Courtesy: British Ministry of Defense]

GCAP will be based in the U.K. and led by BAE Systems in partnership with Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, along with hundreds of companies. The GCAP government headquarters' first CEO will come from Japan, and the first leader of the counterpart representing industry, which will also be headquartered in the U.K., will come from Italy. 

Each country will have an equal 33 percent stake in GCAP, Reuters reported.

"Months of negotiations have allowed for a balanced compromise," the Italian Defense Ministry said.

Around 9,000 people are working on GCAP worldwide, and the program will draw on more than 1,000 suppliers from partner nations, BAE Systems said in a statement.

In the U.K, more than 3,000 jobs are already focused on future air capability, according to the British Ministry of Defense.

"GCAP is a hugely significant program for the security, political, and economic prosperity for Italy, Japan, and U.K. and through effective knowledge and technology transfer will help to evolve and deliver important sovereign combat air capability in each nation for generations to come," BAE Systems said.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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