Team Tempest: The UK, Japan, and Italy will work together to make a new 6th-gen fighter

According to press releases, it has now been confirmed that the UK will team up with Japan and Italy to develop a new 6th-generation jet fighter called "Tempest."
Christopher McFadden
The Tempest
The Tempest

BAE Systems 

Britain, Italy, and Japan said in a joint statement, as reported by Defense News, that they would be working together to create a new sixth-generation fighter. Before this release, there were rumors of such a project under the so-called Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), but nothing more was known beyond the fact that the partners wanted to have the fighter ready by 2035.

According to the BBC, it is anticipated that the new "Tempest" fighter, as it has been called, will also be able to carry the latest in advanced weaponry. It will eventually replace the UK's existing fleet of FGR4 "Typhoons," aka the "Eurofighter."

Work has already started on making a combat plane that is fast, quiet, has cutting-edge sensors, and can even use artificial intelligence to help pilots when they are overwhelmed or under a lot of stress. It might also be able to fire hypersonic missiles and fly without a pilot if needed.

But this is just speculation at this point.

While Japan has been working on its next-generation F-X program, Britain, Italy, and others have previously worked on early development work for their future combat aircraft projects.

If GCAP is implemented, it will be the most effective program for Japan and Europe to work together on defense. There needs to be a word on whether Sweden is still interested in participating in the initiative.

Sweden has been considering a partnership with Britain for a future air combat system called Tempest for a few years. Still, recently it has become less interested in the idea.

Reports say that the talks with Sweden about forming a partnership are still going on as both sides look for ways to build on their past work with the British on projects like the Saab Gripen fighter.

According to Defense News, a Saab spokesman said the company is “focused on supporting the Swedish authorities on reviewing the Swedish future combat air system context.”

The Swedish government awarded the business a 250 million SEK ($24 million) contract to research the development of future fighters.#

The new fighter will be crucial for the partner nations' air forces' futures

In another statement, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was crucial to secure Britain through initiatives like GCAP.

“We [must] stay at the cutting edge of advancements in defense technology—outpacing and outmaneuvering those who seek to do us harm. The international partnership we have announced today with Italy, and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible,” he said.

The joint defense industrial base would be "further strengthened" thanks to GCAP, according to the three governments, who stated that it would "deepen our defense cooperation, scientific and [technological] collaboration, integrated supply chains, and further strengthen."

Team Tempest: The UK, Japan, and Italy will work together to make a new 6th-gen fighter
An alleged mock-up of the Tempest at the DSEI fair in 2019.

“Importantly, the program will support the sovereign capability of all three countries to design, deliver, and upgrade cutting-edge combat air capabilities well into the future,” said the statement.

The British plan for the future of combat aviation called for the Tempest program, which would put a core aircraft at the center of a network of more advanced capabilities like uncrewed aircraft, sensors, weapons, and data systems. It's doubtful that will alter.

“We share [an] ambition for this aircraft to be the centerpiece of a wider combat air system that will function across multiple domains,” said the GCAP statement.

Mark Hamilton, the managing director of Leonardo UK Electronics, says that the market is ready to provide the needed skills.

“The emergence of a single international program, backed by three governments, represents a major point of maturity for our shared combat air vision and a strong vote of confidence in the readiness of industry to deliver the program,” said Hamilton.

For some time, Britain and Japan have been developing their defense cooperation.

Because the two groups worked together in December, they decided to make a fighter jet engine demonstration. Japan's Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) program is also being implemented with help from the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD).

A British industry partnership known as "Team Tempest," consisting of BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA, and Rolls-Royce, has spearheaded the development of a new fighter to begin replacing Typhoon combat jets after 2040.

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