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Japan approves international treaty on next-generation fighter

Japan plans to use the sixth-generation GCAP combat aircraft to replace its ageing fourth-generation Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft after 2035. (BAE Systems)

The Japanese parliamenthas approved an international treaty establishing an intergovernmental organisation to manage the development of the sixth-generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) fighter aircraft.

Under the conditions of the treaty, the three partner countries – Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy – will set up the GCAP International Government Organisation (GIGO). A Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson told Janes that the National Diet's approval of the treaty allows Japan to “conclude the convention” on GCAP and establish GIGO.

The treaty was approved during a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the National Diet, on 5 June. The House of Representatives (the lower chamber) approved the treaty in May.

“[The] establishment of the GIGO [will] build up an effective system for co-operation among Japan, the UK, and Italy, which is essential for the efficient implementation of GCAP,” the MoD spokesperson added.

The treaty also provides partner countries with a pathway to begin discussions on cost sharing. Japan's Minister of Defense Minoru Kihara said in a March meeting of the National Diet Security Committee that the division of cost and labour “may change significantly depending on details [to be decided] on international co-operation”.

Media reports have said Japan and the UK will each bear 40% of project costs. However, Kihara said GIGO will facilitate final decisions on joint development. “We are currently in discussions about the share of contributions to GIGO; we are considering a fair division among the three countries,” he said.

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