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Japan indicates possible Tempest collaboration with UK

25 July 2018

Japan is considering engaging with the United Kingdom on its newly disclosed Combat Air Strategy and its plans to develop the Tempest future fighter aircraft, a model of which was unveiled at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in mid-July.

This engagement will proceed through Japan’s continuing programme to evaluate options in support of its plan to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Mitsubishi F-2 fighters.

Japan has outlined an intention to undertake additional discussions with the UK on potential collaboration on fighter aircraft including the UK’s recently unveiled Tempest concept aircraft. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)Japan has outlined an intention to undertake additional discussions with the UK on potential collaboration on fighter aircraft including the UK’s recently unveiled Tempest concept aircraft. (IHS Markit/Patrick Allen)

Citing Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo confirmed in a recent statement that Japan and the UK have had an “exchange of opinions” about the possibility of a joint air combat project to meet the JASDF’s requirements.

In addition, in acknowledging that the UK is “looking for international joint development partners” in the Tempest programme, Onodera indicated that additional future discussions on the project are planned.

“As for how the UK’s recently announced strategy will affect the possibility of a joint project between Japan and the UK, we hope to discern that through discussions and exchanges of opinions with the UK moving forward,” he said.

Speaking to Jane’s on 25 July, a spokesperson for the MoD’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) confirmed that a “UK company” – understood to be BAE Systems – has already responded to ATLA’s request for information (RFI) for future air combat technologies that could support the F-2 replacement programme.

BAE Systems is developing the Tempest fighter alongside project partners Leonardo, MBDA, and Rolls-Royce.

The ATLA spokesperson added that companies from the United States – understood by Jane’s to be Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman – also responded to the RFI, which was issued in February and recently expired. This was the third RFI issued by the MoD in support of the F-2 replacement programme since 2016.

“In terms of a future fighter platform, the MoD is currently considering various options including indigenous development, joint development, derivative-development and buying off-the-self,” said the ATLA spokesperson.

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