The UK and Japan have announced plans to work together on the development of a demonstration program for a future fighter aircraft engine and related technologies.
The announcement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two nations to pursue joint technologies, including the feasibility of further fighter aircraft sub-systems collaborations.
In its March 2021 Defence Command Paper, the UK announced plans to expand and deepen defence industrial and strategic relationships in the Indo-Pacific region, including with Japan. Also in 2021, the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth led a carrier strike group on an extended deployment to the Indo-Pacific, including port visits in Japan and exercises with Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) assets.
The UK is looking to develop a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) by the end of the decade through the Team Tempest consortium of BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, and Rolls-Royce, while Japan has a similar F-X requirement to replace its Mitsubishi F-2s.
The announcement says work on the new engine will commence in early 2022. It says the UK will contribute an initial £30 million towards planning, digital designs, and manufacturing developments, and an additional £200 million towards the development of a full-scale demonstrator engine.
“Strengthening our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific is a strategic priority and this commitment with Japan, one of our closest security partners in Asia, is a clear example of that, British Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said in a release. “Designing a brand-new combat air system with a fighter aircraft at its heart is a highly ambitious project so working with like-minded nations is vital. Building on the technological and industrial strengths of our two countries, we will be exploring a wide-ranging partnership across next-generation combat air technologies.”
UK Director Future Combat Air, Richard Berthon, added, “This initiative with Japan is a win-win opportunity to develop world-beating power technologies together. Investing and working together with Japan to demonstrate highly advanced engine systems will boost our national industries and design a cutting-edge military capability. We’re looking forward to getting started on this work and continuing our discussions on further collaboration.”