Japan, UK, Italy Collaborate on New Fighter Jet

    Japan, UK, Italy Collaborate on New Fighter Jet
    Last updated Dec 09, 2022
    Image credit: Torsakarin/Japan Ministry of Defense [via CNN]


    • Italy, Japan, and the UK on Friday announced a plan to integrate their fighter jet development projects. This is Japan's first non-American, major industrial defense collaboration since World War II.[1]
    • Japan wants to expand its relationship with allies beyond the US with an eye on potential military competition with China and Russia. Despite not being part of the project, the US Department of Defense endorsed Japan’s partnership.[2]
    • The Global Combat Air Program plans to develop a sixth-generation fighter aircraft by 2035 and improve upon their current use of the British Typhoon fighters and Japanese F-2s.[3]
    • In a joint letter, the three countries’ leaders stated, "We are committed to upholding the rules-based, free and open international order, which is more important than ever at a time when these principles are contested, and threats and aggression are increasing." Japan expects to double its defense spending over the next five years.[4]
    • This collaboration is the second sixth-generation fighter design project in Europe in addition to a venture between France, Germany, and Spain. More countries such as Sweden could potentially be involved in the future.[5]
    • Britain’s BAE Systems, Japan’s Mitsubishi, and Italy’s Leonardo are expected to be the key companies in the project’s development as the nations integrate their efforts.[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    Not only are Japan, Italy, and the UK combining their technological prowess to create innovative defense fighters, but the countries are also strengthening alliances to preserve global democracy. By building strong national advantages in their defense industries, these countries can build a robust system to support a US-led alliance.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    By drastically increasing its defense spending and engaging in large-scale military projects, Japan is creating an unstable security environment in East Asia. Tokyo is playing with fire by revisiting an interest in military activities that it abandoned for decades after World War II and throwing its lot in with an aggressive Western hegemonic order.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that Japan will respond with military forces if China invades Taiwan by 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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