The UK, Japan and Italy have collaborated to form a trilateral aerospace coalition to jointly develop their next-generation fighter aircraft.  

The new partnership was confirmed by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a media statement on 9 December.

Known as the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), the joint effort will allow the countries’ forces to prepare for the security threats of the future. 

The vision is to develop a combat jet integrated with a network of capabilities, including advanced sensors, uncrewed aircraft, weapons and innovative data systems.

The announcement also coincides with the launch of the initial phase of the GCAP effort.

In this phase, the three countries will work together to establish a concept for this future platform while also forming the structures required for the project.

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It will involve the three countries to jointly assess the costs and individual national budgets to finally come up with a mutually agreed cost-sharing arrangement for the programme.

Once the first phase is complete, the programme will enter the development phase in 2025, while the aircraft is expected to start operating in 2035.

Sunak said: “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 GCAP is expected to generate various high-skilled jobs in Japan, Italy and the UK, which will eventually strengthen the industrial base.

The US Department of Defense has also expressed support for this coalition.

In a joint statement, the US and Japan said: “Together, we have begun important collaboration through a series of discussions on autonomous systems capabilities, which could complement Japan’s next fighter programme among other platforms.”