Defence giants from the UK, Japan, and Italy have taken significant strides in their collective vision for the future of aerial warfare. BAE Systems (UK), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), and Leonardo SpA (Italy) have reached a trilateral Collaboration Agreement.

This will streamline efforts to meet the concept phase requirements of the next generation combat aircraft for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

The Collaboration Agreement is set to boost ongoing discussions, determining long-term working arrangements. It will also help refine the concept and capability prerequisites for the forthcoming combat aircraft.

BAE Systems’ Managing Director for Future Combat Air Systems, Herman Claesen, commented, “The Collaboration Agreement signals the strong alignment across all three nations to meet common goals and objectives on the programme to deliver a truly international, next generation combat aircraft.”

Similarly, Hitoshi Shiraishi, Senior Fellow of GCAP at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, relayed his enthusiasm: “We are truly honoured to be part of GCAP… We have already started cooperating closely with our UK and Italian partners and believe that our mix of cultures and diverse perspectives will contribute to the success of this programme.”

Guglielmo Maviglia, the GCAP Programme Director at Leonardo SpA, acknowledged the cooperation’s distinctive capacities. “This trilateral collaboration on the programme… represents the flagship of the distinctive capabilities and disruptive technologies that the partners of the three nations will share.”

For those keen to witness the progress of this international endeavour up close, the GCAP representatives from all three nations will be presenting at DSEI London.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Brilliant.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

Indeed it is. I really hope they make a great aircraft. I think it will turn out to be fantastic. Hopefully cheaper than what the USA is working on.

Nick Sills
Nick Sills
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

All good until Labour take charge!!

Marked
Marked
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick Sills

Got nothing better to do today Rishi?

Crasher
Crasher
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick Sills

Now let me think, TSR2? Could have been a world beater and still in service, except we bought the Aardvark which cost more and is long long gone.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

On track!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Lower cost than the USAF NGAD is pretty much guaranteed. It was stated in April 2022 by then Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall as, “the service was talking about “multiple” hundreds of millions” for the aircraft.

Conversely it was stressed at the Tempest launch in July 2018 that it had to be affordable to get the numbers desired by both BAES and the RAF.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The whole point of 6th gen is that it’s a system of systems and it all has to fit together to work. Tempest is to FCAS as carrier is to CSG. You don’t send out a carrier solo (snarks aside) and nor should Tempest fight alone. As much as the cost, what will make or break Tempest is the ecosystem it’s delivered with. If the core fighter is too capable, might it not be too costly for us? Should we major on the brain and nervous system and leave the fists and teeth to the subsystems? Something for the op… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Correct. My worry is can all the extra bits be ready and funded at the same time? I hope so but just now to get the aircraft with the weapons that are
Coming will be great.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I’m in two minds, great if we can do it but is this us saddling an unfunded project on to a tight defence budget. Only time will tell, Japan like Germany also opens many questions. Lots of promises on future defence budgets but clearly lacking and as we are seeing with Saudi not fully open to defence exports.

Fingers crossed.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I have read that 10 billion is already allocated to it in future years equipment budgets. Now that of course is subject to change.

If it fails then we will have more F35, being the A, for the RAF. I prefer Tempest. No doubt the US will be desperate to see it fail. It will be up to your lot.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Yes, one of those times when we need to remember the US isn’t always our friend.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

In fairness to uncle Sam, I’m not sure they have any interest in selling anyone their Uber tech 6 Gen aircraft but will be happy that their third and fourth most important Allie’s ( Britain and Japan) (after Israel and Ireland) can produce a capable aircraft in numbers with no US input.

That’s the US government anyway, no doubt the corrupt congress will try and get their fingers in once LM realises it can’t export NGAD and F35 sales start to drop off.

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Those massive supporters of USA defence Israel and ROI! Lifting a little finger is such hard work.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Excellent take. As the US realises it can’t persist in controlling the defence message and needs others to help I suspect it will, if begrudgingly appreciate better armed allies. Trouble is as you say much of the population and politicians still buy into the delusional make America Great Again syndrome whereby they feel are doing the World a favour by forcing them to accept US hegemony friends and foes alike and can re-estrablish that World Order. AUKUS is a sign that at least for now the Grown ups see things a little differently and cooperation is required even for them.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Certainly.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I’m make no promises on aircraft from my lot, only surface ships 😀 £10 billion seems like chump change compared to Eurofighter development. BAE are all full of promises that it’s different this time with digital engineering etc but I remember much the same promises over F35. Japanese aircraft to date have been eye wateringly expensive although they involved Lockheed. Fingers crossed it’s too big to fail and BAE deliver. Tempest is likely to be the only 6gen aircraft available for anyone to purchase before 2050 and as we see wth the Saudis others are keen for it. It Will… Read more »

Expat
Expat
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

These agreements tend to be time limited and followed by another agreement for the next phase so fairly easy for a future government to change tack. My money is still on the European project being the preferred choice for next government. Fits with ‘closer ties of European defence projects’ and our parties like to do the opposite of each other, even if there’s no logic to it 😀.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

Just as likely to get more EU partners on GCAP than FCAS, no one in europe wants to work with the French or Germans, Spain got no choice.

France has already popped Belgium, says no F35 partner nations should be allowed into their FCAS.

Graham
Graham
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Even though Germany is buying F-35!

Expat
Expat
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

From John Healy below worth a read, certainly suggest we’ll be working with Germany. We will have a new government next year and they want to work with the EU, and made it clear Pacific is secondary.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/05/22/nato-germany-united-kingdom-defense-deal-brexit-ukraine/

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

I like the sound of the European pillar of NATO. We need to ensure Europe can independently defend itself as the US potentially implodes or at best becomes unreliable and dictatorial and potentially like as they may end up with Ukraine using Europe as cannon fodder to placate Putin.

David
David
2 months ago

Agreed Daniele. One of the reasons we are not going to get the original 138 F-35s was in part to help offset the cost of Tempest. Rob Peter to pay Paul. I just hope Tempest actually materialises!

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  David

There is nothing to say that 138 F35’s won’t be procured over it’s service life.

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Tempest aside, I have no reason to believe that the government will ever hit the 138 airframes. Look at Typhoon for example – we were we supposed to get 232 but only received 160 including the Tranche 1s soon to be retired. The remaining 72 that the UK was supposed to get were sold to Saudi Arabia with a huge sign of relief from the MoD.

There are plenty of examples where the government never follows through ordering the quantities originally envisaged.

Paul T
Paul T
2 months ago
Reply to  David

At the moment I’d wager more money on 138 F35’s than Tempest entering service – look what it took financially to get Typhoon into production, let alone the F35.

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Fair point Paul – I have my concerns regarding Tempest too. It’s going to take a lot more investment and in my opinion, being operational by 2035 is a pipe dream.

The silver lining is we have Japan and Italy onboard now too, so it will be harder for any UK government to cut the program.

I am curious to see how many we think we will get; I haven’t seen any numbers floating around yet – early days still.

Expat
Expat
2 months ago
Reply to  David

I don’t think its hard for any government to cut a program or drop out of one. Germany wanted out of Typhoon, France dropped out of EF after concept phase and out of . We dropped TSR2 that we were trying to sell to Australia. We dropped out of Boxer. History is littered with governments dropping out of international programs, they especially vulnerable when governments change imo, look at the UK/French UCAS, Macron wins the election and cancels it in favour of Germany.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

Well if Tempest is cancelled we lose Bae as a British headquartered Company soon after I suspect. The Govt could fall as a result I reckon thereafter, as it would be a National disaster the media would fully exploit.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Evening Daniele, are they still looking at possibly upgrading 40 odd T1 Typhoons to T4/5 standard as an interim measure?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Some Typhoon will be getting the new Radar mate, yes.

David
David
2 months ago

Only the Tranche 3s – about 40 airframes. New AESA radar and cockpit.

To be fair, there is talk of possibly upgrading some if not all, the Tranche 2s.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Japan’s concern over Saudi involvement seems to be that they don’t want to see any delay introduced into the program due to adding other partners, i.e. want to hold to 2035 target for introduction.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago

Makes sense to me, get things on track and then talk about 2nd tier partners, input maybe but not where it seriously affects progress. It’s not like Saudi will get a better deal unless they want to go Russian/Chinese which would be like cutting off their nose….

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Not wrong but Japan has to move in steps it’s Govt sees the threat from both China and Russia on its doorstep and the people are gradually coming along with them, by the time Tempest comes on stream I suspect t this will have all moved on a lot, counter strike weapons in large numbers are both being bought and their own strike missiles are being rapidly upgraded to a weapon with at least 3 times the range. Tempest will be vital to them esp as and when China takes over Taiwan and only a few miles separate their outer… Read more »

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Sounds pretty pompous to me.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago

I think we will all feel more optimistic about this project once the technology demonstrator takes to the sky’s for the first time. Let’s hope it can survive the various spending rounds. Its all looking positive so far though 👍🇬🇧

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

I can’t help but see Buccaneer aircraft when looking at the new pictures. Obviously the intakes are different, perhaps it’s the wings.
Should be a great project.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

A stealthy buccaneer is probably a close approximation to what NGAD will end up being.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The machinations around a supersonic Buccaneer as pushed by Mountbatten did much to finish off TSR2 in the end, even if we ne ergot that either. Things never change.

Order of the Ditch
Order of the Ditch
2 months ago

I am very excited by this. For once a major defence project has a good energy around it and significant progress appears to being made. I’m glad that the Japanese are on board, they will order sufficient numbers and make it politically very hard for the UK to pull out. The approach we are taking to get an in service date of 2035 may be pivotal in winning export orders from other nations as ours will be in service before the Americans 6th Gen project. I think France and Germany are in a bad place. Neither country can go it… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I think we should start to develop a second tier partner level as with F35, keep Japan Uk and Italy at level 1. Lots of countries like Sweden and Saudi likely want to get involved and probably Germany and Spain after France pulls our of FCAS.

We can offer Saudis domestic assembly at the very least but keep them out of sub systems.

Expat
Expat
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Saab already has ties to Boeing, I think they’ll be looking to participate in Boeing NGAD project in some form,

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

NGAD is like F22, they have already ruled out any foreign participation.

Expat
Expat
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Not saying they will be a partner nation but Saab has US production facilities, even if they get a few % of NGAD through components and sub systems its likely to be of more value than the UK or EU programs. This is the case with the F22 companies provide systems and components, BAe supply systems to highly classified US programs so no reason why Saab can’t do the same.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

Don’t think it’s an either or situation for Saab, being independent at this stage of any formal national commitment to a particular project certainly is likely profitable for them I suspect and will keep supplier doors more open.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Expat

Saab have the digital twin tech that is a World leader and I’m sure in that regard it will be used in Tempest too. I suspect a tear 2 will develop in some form though perhaps informally. If as is likely at some stage Saudi get involved then others will jump aboard, more than happy to free themselves from US control. This could be a massive ongoing partnership for a number of Countries in decades to come ranging through all manner of cooperation that could loosen US suppression of all our various defence independence, let’s hope Labour indeed don’t sacrifice… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The monies nice but don’t we need to watch on Saudis growing relationships with Russia and China?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Is there an likely option to actually partner with a US firm like a Boeing for a bit of industrial reciprocity? Extra E-7, P-8s, other goodies?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Boeing offered back in 2018. But seriously would we want to with them? Northrop Grumman might be a far better bet but you still run up against the US political power base. Things might. Change a little if they have to face realism in World Politics eventually but the un-enlightened ones seem to have the greatest influence and power and tend to double down on protectionism.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Or we need to prize Saudi away from Russia and China because the US is doing a terrible job at it.

Japan buys massive amounts of Saudi oil and we sell them all the high tech toys they ever need.

The Saudis hate the Russians and certainly do not want China ruling the Indo pacific unchecked.

I would not allow Saudis to be a component producer for GCAP but I can see local assembly and participation being on the cards with minimal security risks.

I don’t think they have tied to give anything about Typhoon away to China.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

My feelings too, it’s not in their interest, they just want to keep options open as their own power increases so trying to be reasonably friendly with all where it benefits, it’s about pragmatism really on the World stage to break their reliance on the US.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I wonder what risks there are with Israeli links to Russia they have at least one prominent ex politician who is a Russian citizen and many nationals with links there. Who knows what US tech gets leaked through sources there. I think the Saudi risk is why it’s best to keep participation to a second tier and later date. Always risk but Saudi are looking for independence and freedom from pressure more than a change of commitment from one regime to another. They want to develop their own technological and economic base so not in their interest to compromise that… Read more »

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I Thought most if not all F35’s Lightenings can have the F22 Raptor upgrades I thought I read something about upgrade options on F35. Imo nice to see UK updating RAF, hopefully UK will also look at adding number of Apache AH64 attack helicopters. Also increasing the Navy’s fleet with newer and updated ships,Nuclear submarines,Air craft carriers as I believe UK are looking to add more Frigates to the current fleet. Hopefully the MOD,RN Etc looking to have most advanced ships,Subs etc in future as USA are not always are friends so to speak. Example US with F22’s no other… Read more »

DJ
DJ
2 months ago

This will only work if they keep the Saudi’s out of it. Try again to get Sweden on board if they need more help. Or even Australia. If US, France & Germany are out of the picture, then options are limited if you are looking at expertise. Then again, there are 3 US capable companies & only 2 US 6 gen fighter competitions (USAF & USN). Someone has to loose. I wouldn’t, but I’m not in charge.

Order of the Ditch
Order of the Ditch
2 months ago
Reply to  DJ

Saudi is our biggest and most important Middle Eastern partner, it is a country that is undergoing significant change. We need to be at the front of the pack and not waste opportunities. Just look at SRAF, they have three times the number of fast jets that the RAF has, a number that I expect to go up. I cannot see RAF ordering more than 150 GCAPs but I can see Saudi making a big order for 300 to replace their big fleets of F15s, Tornadoes and Typhoons. GCAP will be a success if there are enough unit orders to… Read more »

DJ
DJ
2 months ago

Australia is likely to support UK regardless. It also has less than half UK population. UK population is roughly that of Australia, Canada & New Zealand put together (all Five Eyes members). So it’s unlikely to have a bigger airforce, navy or army. Add in Canada & New Zealand & you start to have a valid comparison. Saudi Arabia will go its own way & if that way doesn’t suit? You are thinking money. Money doesn’t buy you real friends. It buys you fair weather friends. Sweden has a modern fighter manufacturer in SAAB. Australia has the high tech Ghost… Read more »

Metal Max
Metal Max
2 months ago
Reply to  DJ

Britain’s population is 70-80 million,Britain’s population is bigger than canada,australia and NZ combined.Less than half the UK’s population, yeah and the rest.

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago

and I wouldn’t want the Saudi’s…

Sean
Sean
2 months ago

We the UK need to start thinking of our own forces and building relationships with foreign allies ie ordering of aircraft etc. I just hope we reinvest that revenue to our weapons,air fleets & sea. Personally think going to be interesting partnership with Italy & especially Japan ( technology platform as ) 6th gen fighter jet contract

SD67
SD67
2 months ago
Reply to  DJ

We’ve been intimately involved with the Saudis for half a century not just at a military level but in terms of trade, finance and education. Excluding them from GCAP would be a collossal act of self harm

DJ
DJ
2 months ago
Reply to  SD67

Hmm.

Australia, Canada, NZ ? 50 years? Where have you been? WW1, WW2 doesn’t count?

Saudi’s have baggage. Various NATO countries have problems with them. So if the France/Germany/Spain consortium falls over & Saudi’s don’t want to supply Germany or another NATO country etc? Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. Everything is in the hands of the King & the Crown Prince. Put the wrong nose out of joint with them & it stays that way.

Shooting your self in the foot is preferable to losing a leg.

SD67
SD67
2 months ago
Reply to  DJ

Australia and Canada always buy American and NZ haven’t operated fast jets for 30 years.
There are 10s of thousands of Brits working in the Gulf – my uncle was there in the late 70s helping the construction of the Dahran air base. We’ve sold them tornado we sold them hawk we sold them typhoon and we’ll sell them tempest

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  SD67

Agreed, sometimes you have to hold your nose we need as many export opportunities as possible, to push Saudi into another’s very hostile sphere of influence really would be biting off your nose to spite your face and then some. Aus and Can will only go Tempest if there is no US choice and would buy a fraction of what Saudi would.

terence patrick hewett
terence patrick hewett
2 months ago

I believe this will be a world beater, as SSN-AUKUS will be a world beater: as so many hybrids have been in the past.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Looks a bit F22-like that’s been to the gym?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Nose very much so rather less from behind cockpit.

Malcolm
Malcolm
2 months ago

The more chefs the longer the recipe