The governments of the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy signed a treaty on Thursday establishing the basis for the joint development of a 6th generation fighter within the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP).
The signing comes about a year after the three countries decided to share the costs of the stealth aircraft project, which will replace fighters such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F-15 from 2035.
The companies Leonardo, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and BAE Systems are involved in the program. According to the signed agreement, GCAP’s headquarters will be located in the United Kingdom while the first CEO will be appointed by Japan.
According to BAE System, there are around 9,000 people working on the program in addition to more than 1,000 suppliers from the three partner nations.
The joint development phase will begin in 2025, but details such as the final assembly location and scheduled date for the inaugural flight have not yet been revealed.
According to the British government, the supersonic stealth jet will feature a radar that can provide 10,000 times more data than current systems.
The advance in the GCAP program puts pressure on the similar initiative between France, Germany and Spain, the FCAS (Future Combat Air System).
The 6th generation fighter project has suffered several setbacks due to disputes over leadership in the program, which brings together Dassault, Airbus and other systems, engines and weapons partners.
In November, The Times stated that the German government was thinking about leaving the partnership with France and Spain and joining GCAP, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman assured that the country remains in the program.