Japan, Britain and Italy plan sixth-generation fighter jet to rival world’s most-advanced warplanes

The United Kingdom, Japan and Italy announced Friday they are teaming up to build a sixth-generation fighter jet, designed to rival or eclipse the best warplanes now employed by the likes of China and Russia – and possibly even the United States, the main ally of the trio.“We are announcing the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) – an ambitious endeavour to develop a next-generation fighter aircraft by 2035,” British, Japanese and Italian leaders said in a joint statement.

The leaders’ statement said the new fighter jet is needed because “threats and aggression are increasing” against the “rules-based, free and open international order.”“Defending our democracy, economy and security, and protecting regional stability, are ever more important,” the leaders said.

In a separate statement, the British government said development of the new warplane is expected to begin in 2024, and it is expected to be flying by 2035.

It will showcase technologies from each of the three partners, the British statement said.“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,” it added.

All three countries are part of the US fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter program, under which all three fly the F-35 and versions of the warplane are assembled in Italy and Japan. The new jet is not expected to affect the F-35 program.

The British, Japanese and Italian leaders highlighted the benefits of working together.“It will deepen our defense cooperation, science and technology collaboration, integrated supply chains, and further strengthen our defense industrial base,” their joint statement said.

Meanwhile, China and Russia are also thought to be pursuing sixth-generation aircraft.China and Russia now fly fifth-generation fighters – Beijing’s J-20 and J-31 jets and Moscow’s Su-57.But the US-designed F-35s are widely seen as equal to or better than the Chinese or Russian aircraft.

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