Japan, Britain and Italy are close to a defense agreement on a new jet fighter, joining forces to fund a multi-billion dollar program capable of competing with the next generation of warplanes.
The three-way defense collaboration will merge Japan’s F-X project with UK and Italy’s Tempest.
Joining a major defense development project with a partner other than the U.S. is a break with tradition for Japan, which is in the process of bolstering its military budget and upgrading its national security strategy after being spooked by Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
It will also reinforce Tokyo’s determination to forge deeper security ties with a range of allies to prepare for the possibility of a war with China over Taiwan.
Britain and Italy have been developing the Tempest warplane to rival France, Germany and Spain’s so-called Future Combat Air System plane for some years.
The Franco-German-Spanish program has taken a step forward in the past few days after a long hiatus, with Berlin and Paris reaching an industrial and political agreement on how to move forward with a demonstrator aircraft.
The U.S. and Russia are also developing their own sixth-generation of jet fighters.