Britain to work with Japan on new fighter jet program

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 18 (Reuters) – Britain said on Monday it was working with Japan and existing partner Italy on its next-generation fighter jet programme, a joint concept analysis leading to decisions on deeper partnerships by the end of the year. .

Reuters reported on Thursday that Britain and Japan are close to an agreement to merge their next-generation Tempest and FX fighter jet programs, with the two countries aiming for a deal on a new joint project by the end. of the year. Read more

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his government supports aviation and technology.

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“I believe passionately in the potential of our budding partnership, not just with Italy, but with Japan,” he said at the opening of the Farnborough Airshow.

Britain and its main defense partner BAE Systems (BAES.L) said a Tempest demonstrator would fly within the next five years, becoming the country’s first combat air demonstrator since the typhoon nearly 40 years ago. year.

It will be a manned supersonic aircraft testing a range of new technologies, including the integration of stealth-enabled features, BAE said at the show.

Britain wants the new fighter to be in service by 2035 and, following its departure from the European Union, is pursuing a program separate from a Franco-German-Spanish plan.

The joint concept analysis with Japan and Italy will explore potential partnership options with Britain’s Future Combat Air project, Britain said, with decisions expected by the end of the year.

Like the UK, Japan and Italy operate F-35 fighter jets and the nations have undertaken joint exercises.

Richard Berthon, UK director of Future Combat Air, said Britain was talking to “serious countries with serious investment ambitions”.

He said the talks with Japan were “going better than expected”.

“The extent of the alignment that we have found with Japan, both on the military side, on the engineering side and on the investment side, is fantastic,” he told reporters at Farnborough.

“We are exploring what will be the level of ambition and scope of our cooperation,” he said.

Tempest has a government budget of 2 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) until 2025. Other partners include Leonardo UK, MBDA and Rolls-Royce.

Britain and Sweden have also signed a memorandum of understanding to work on the development and acquisition of joint combat aircraft.

Berthon said Sweden would remain “a very close partner” in future combat systems and technologies”, but noted that there had been a “radical change in their strategic environment” which was likely to impact on threat assessment and the country’s budget, referring in part to Sweden’s application for NATO membership.

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Reporting by Paul Sandle Editing by Mark Potter

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