The two countries are actively cooperating in the defence sector, and their industries are already working on various cooperative projects. According to recent reports, Tokyo is considering switching its F-X Jet development partner from Lockheed Martin to BAE Systems in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom highlighted the two countries’ efforts to execute cooperation defence and security programmes in a press statement released on May 5, noting the Future Combat Air System programme in particular.
To lower investment costs and operating hazards, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMOD) has previously fostered collaboration with the United Kingdom at the F-X subsystem level. Much of the technology is similar to that used in ‘The Tempest‘, the UK-led Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
Several collaborative programmes with the British have already started. The timelines for the F-X and Tempest programmes are nearly comparable, with both aiming for in-service dates in the mid-2030s.
“We’ve engaged in negotiation, dialogues, and some experimental projects,” said Air Commodore Johnny Moreton, the United Kingdom’s programme director. At the moment, nothing is overly complicated. We’re currently working on a combined engine viability study with Japan, which is quite exciting.”
“They have an F-X programme set in 2035, which is extremely similar to ours.” The threat is very comparable to the one we are anticipating, and they, like us, sit at the top table in terms of an industrial nation,” he continued.
Japan and the United Kingdom announced their plan to undertake a cooperation engine demonstrator programme in December 2021. The project would produce an entirely new full-scale power and propulsion demonstration using complimentary technologies developed by Rolls-Royce and IHI Corporation.
The propulsion, power, and thermal management systems of the F-X aircraft will be powered by a powerful turbofan engine.
Following that, Tokyo announced that London will contribute to the engine and the development of “relatable aircraft parts.” This comment exemplifies the developing links between the two countries.
Furthermore, Japan’s Fumio Kishida government announced earlier this year that Tokyo and London would continue working on a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) in fiscal year 2022. In Fiscal Year 2022, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has set aside JPY350 million ($3 million) to cover costs related with JNAAM prototype air-launch testing.
The UK and Japan agreed on February 15 to work on sensor technologies for the Tempest and F-X future combat aircraft programmes, increasing their security cooperation. After signing a Letter of Agreement, the two nations decided to collaborate on the Japan and Great Britain Universal Advanced R.F. (JAGUAR) system (LOA).
Meanwhile, Italy is looking to partner with Japan on the construction of its next-generation fighter plane, following the lead of the United Kingdom.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said last month that Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini expressed interest in helping create Japan’s F-X next-generation fighter plane.