Japan, UK, Italy sign treaty to develop next-generation fighter jets

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Japan, Britain and Italy signed Thursday a treaty formalizing plans to jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet to pool resources and better face new threats.

“This combat air aircraft, due to take to the skies by 2035, aims to harness next-generation technologies and become one of the world’s most advanced, interoperable, adaptable and connected fighter jets in service globally,” Britain’s defense ministry said after the signing in Tokyo.

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“The supersonic stealth jet will boast a powerful radar that can provide 10,000 times more data than current systems, giving a battle-winning advantage,” the statement said.

The headquarters of the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) will be in Britain, under the agreement inked a year after the cooperation was first announced, the countries said.

The first chief executive will be Japanese and the head of the industry organization will be from Italy, Britain’s defense ministry said in a statement.

For Japan, which has announced a major increase in defense spending, the project represents a push to diversify away from its decades-long reliance on the United States for military hardware.

The cooperation pools resources from Britain and Italy’s joint Tempest project with those of Japan’s next-generation fighter plane F-X.

The treaty was signed by Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and his British and Italian counterparts Grant Shapps and Guido Crosetto.

“We live in a very complex time that is characterized by the presence of aggressive actors on the international stage... It has therefore become vitally important to stay one step ahead of the threats that grow every day,” Crosetto said in a statement.

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