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DSEI 2023: GCAP partners agree to develop delivery construct

An artist's impression of the future fighter aircraft that Italy, Japan, and the UK are developing under the GCAP programme. (BAE Systems)

The three countries partnering on the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) have announced an agreement to work to develop an industrial construct for the delivery of the sixth-generation combat aircraft.

Announced on the opening day of the DSEI 2023 defence exhibition in London, the agreement between the three national industrial primes of Mitsubishi for Japan, Leonardo for Italy, and BAE Systems for the United Kingdom is geared towards delivering the concept phase requirements that are scheduled to be launched in 2025.

β€œThis is an airframer agreement to work together on how to put the commercial construct together that will deliver GCAP,” Janes was told by an industry representative on 12 September. β€œIt could be a joint venture, or it could be anything else at this stage.”

Italy, Japan, and the UK announced on 9 December 2022 that they were combining their future fighter efforts with the launch of the new GCAP. The merging of the UK-Italian Tempest that sits at the core of the UK's Future Combat Air System (FCAS) technology initiative and Japan's F-X fighter into the GCAP effort is geared towards delivering an operational sixth-generation combat aviation capability no later than the 2035 timeframe that was already in place for the two separate programmes.

This latest agreement comes nine months after Janes and other defence media and interested parties were told by senior project officials from the UK that this challenging ambition can only be achieved via a new delivery construct that builds on the lessons learned from previous international collaborations.

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