Governments of Japan and the United Kingdom have joined hands to collaborate and develop the jet engine of the sixth-generation fighter aircraft and have signed a memorandum of cooperation to this effect, said a press release from the U.K. government.
The two countries have been exploring opportunities for collaboration for some time and are vested in the development of future combat air systems, the press release said. Earlier this year, U.K.'s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth set out on her maiden voyage which included a trip to Japan. The U.K. intends to deepen industrial relationships in the defense sector in the Indo-Pacific region where the two countries are looking to counter China's growing influence.
Both, the U.K. and Japan currently have their sixth-generation fighter aircraft programs underway, Defense News reported. Japan's proposed aircraft, designated F-X, will begin replacing the formidable F-2's in the Japanese Air Force in the mid-2030s. Earlier this year, we reported that a consortium of companies had joined forces to deliver the U.K's six-generation aircraft and associated systems.
The signing of the agreement will allow the two countries to jointly develop the engine for these aircraft. Though signed by governments, the work will be left by the industries of the two nations, such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems in the U.K. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and IHI in Japan. The F-2 aircraft are built by Mitsubishi while up to 70 percent of aircraft engines used in Japan are sourced from IHI, Defense News reported.
"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," said Ben Wallace, Defense Secretary for the U.K. "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." According to the press release, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense will also aid Japan in the delivery of their Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) program.
The U.K. plans to invest 40.24 million dollars (30 million pounds) in planning, digital designs and innovations in manufacturing in the initial stages of the project, followed by another 268.26 million dollars (200 million pounds) for building the demonstrator. Over the next four years, it plans to invest over 2.68 billion dollars (2 billion pounds) in developing the world leading Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the press release said.