Japan, Britain and Italy are going to jointly make fighter jets. The countries are integrating their next-generation jet fighter projects in a ground-breaking partnership spanning Europe and Asia. And it is Japan’s first major industrial defense partner outside the United States since World War II.

According to a Reuters report, the agreement in July aimed to combine the British-led Future Combat Air System project (also known as Tempest) with Japan’s F-X program in an initiative called Global Combat to produce an advanced front-line fighter by 2035. The Tri-Country Air Program (GCAP) said in a statement on Friday.

The deal, against a backdrop of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and a growing Chinese military presence around Japan and Taiwan, could help Japan counter the growing military power of its larger neighbor and give Britain a greater security role in a region that is a key driver of the global economy, the report said.

“We are committed to maintaining a 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,” the statement by the three countries’ joint leaders said.

In what appears to be a deterioration in regional security, Japan will announce military build-up plans this month that are expected to double defense spending to about 2 percent of gross domestic product over five years.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said separately that his country needed to be at the cutting edge of defense technology and that the deal would add new dimensions.

Britain’s BAE Systems plc, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Italy’s Leonardo will lead the design of the aircraft. The planes will have advanced digital capabilities for artificial intelligence and cyber warfare, Japan’s defense ministry said.

(Dhaka Times / 09 December / SAT)