The United Kingdom on Friday announced an unprecedented international aerospace coalition with Italy and Japan to adapt and respond to future security threats.
"The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) is a new partnership and ambitious endeavour between the UK, Japan and Italy to deliver the next generation of combat air fighter jets," Downing Street said in a statement. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to visit a UK base today to launch the first major phase of the programme, which aims to harness the combined expertise of defence technology industries to push the boundaries of what has been achieved in aerospace engineering to date.
"Due to take to the skies by 2035, the ambition is for this to be a next-generation jet enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons and innovative data systems," the UK Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
By combining forces with Italy and Japan on the next phase of the programme, the UK plans to utilise their expertise, share costs and ensure the RAF remains interoperable with our closest partners.
The project is expected to create high-skilled jobs in all three countries, strengthening our industrial base and driving innovation with benefits beyond pure military use.
Sunak said the security of the United Kingdom, both today and for future generations, will always be of paramount importance to this Government. "That's why we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence technology - outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm," the British PM said.
According to Downing Street, the international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible.
"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," the statement added.
The new combat aircraft designed by GCAP is expected to replace the Typhoon when it comes out of service. The Prime Minister will also meet Quick Reaction Alert Station engineers and pilots, who protect the UK's skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The UK, Italy and Japan will now work intensively to establish the core platform concept and set up the structures needed to deliver this massive defence project, ready to launch the development phase in 2025.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, "This international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next-generation of Combat Aircraft, represents the best collaboration of cutting edge defence technology and expertise shared across our nations, providing highly skilled jobs across the sector and long-term security for Britain and our allies."
"GCAP sits alongside our other defence cooperation with international allies, including the AUKUS partnership and NATO - to which the UK remains the leading European contributor," he added.