GCAP plans, which will replace F-2 and Typhoon, will be discussed

TOKYO, JAPAN — The defense ministers of the UK, Japan, and Italy will share their plans for the GCAP program next month, which involves the joint development of a next-generation fighter jet.

UK, Japan make a joint next-gen fighter, Tempest and FX merge
Photo credit: British MoD

Ben Wallace, Yasukazu Hamada and Guido Crosetto to met this March in Tokyo. They will discuss the advance of the project. New program aims to have the new device around 2035. The program mainly involves the British company BAE Systems. The Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Italian Leonardo are infolved. Those three companies are also scheduled to participate in the event.

The tripartite meeting will also explore future export opportunities. This information comes from the Japanese news outlet The Japan Times. The newspaper cited its source, who wished to remain anonymous. In order to have exports, Japan must change its legislation. Currently, there are frameworks preventing the export of Japanese weapons. These bans are a fact due to the pacifist conscience rooted in the country after World War II.

The Japanese government has already included in its National Security Strategy, updated late last year, the possible review of the country’s military export policy, for which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has indicated a willingness to change the constitution sometime next April, according to the local newspaper.

Japan, UK, and Italy to produce next-gen fighter replacing aging F2
Photo credit: JASDF

The future fighter of the GCAP program will replace the fleet of about 330 fighters in service by the middle of the next decade. Specifically, about 90 Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 aircraft, which is an indigenous variant of the American F-16 model, and 240 British and Italian Eurofighters.

The first device outside the US

Japan’s participation in this project is a milestone for the country, which has exclusively used American combat aircraft since the end of World War II. Consequently, the initial Japanese approach to the UK-led Tempest project did not find favor with the United States.

For some time, Tokyo has been working on its own next-generation fighter concept under the so-called F-X program, which will give rise to the F-3 fighter, and which it set out to design without outside help.

Thus, the possibility of Lockheed Martin providing technical support, which had been under consideration for some time, was largely ruled out, as the involvement of the American company would have interfered with Japanese export plans for the new aircraft.


Next-gen French-German-Spanish fighter may not appear until 2050 - FCAS
Photo credit: ESD

The announcement of the alliance of Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy around a next-generation fighter jet, which took place last November, coincided with the unlocking that Spain, France, and Germany then sealed on their own project for a future security system. combat [NGWS/FCAS], after months of tense negotiations between Airbus and Dassault, major industrial partners of Germany and Italy.

The existence of two major future combat aircraft programs involving Europe [FCAS and GCAP] could theoretically create healthy competition to achieve the best system between the two programs.

Many expert voices have warned for some time that the old continent will not be able to compete in the future market for sixth-generation combat aircraft if it fails to unite its various projects into one.


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