15% DISCOUNT

Tempest Project Gathers Pace

A YEAR after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed details of the UK’s partnership with Italy and Japan in the building of the next-generation fighter jet, an official tri-nation treaty was signed in Tokyo, with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in attendance.

Plans for the Tempest project were first revealed in 2018, the new aircraft that will ultimately replace the Typhoon expected to take to the skies in 2035, offering upgrades in stealth and radar capabilities, as well as staying one step ahead of its rivals in terms of AI technology and weaponry.

The treaty ceremony held in Tokyo confirmed that the UK will host the joint GCAP (Global Combat Air Programme) government headquarters, the UK effort being led by BAE Systems in close partnership with Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA UK, the British division of the pan-European missile systems company.

Speaking about the project, Defence Secretary Shapps said: “Our world-leading combat aircraft programme aims to be crucial to global security and we continue to make hugely positive progress toward delivery of the new jets to our respective forces in 2035.

“The UK-based HQ will also see us make important decisions collaboratively and at pace, working with our close partners, Italy and Japan, and our impressive defence industries, to deliver an outstanding aircraft.”

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps (centre), seen here at a trilateral meeting with his Italian and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo Japan, where they signed a Treaty regarding the Global Combat Air Programme
(Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps (centre), seen here at a trilateral meeting with his Italian and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo Japan, where they signed a Treaty regarding the Global Combat Air Programme - MOD)

As well as Grant Shapps being present at the meeting hosted by Japanese Minister Minoru Kihara, Italy’s Guido Crosetto was also in attendance. The official signing comes 12 months after the formal launch of GCAP and is indicative of the positive progress in the development the jet; the joint development phase of the programme due to launch in 2025.

Previous joint ventures have proved highly successful, with both the Jaguar and Tornado serving the RAF with distinction for decades. The Jaguar was created by a combination of British and French air design in the 1960s and 70s, a jet that was good enough to be in operation with the RAF for 33 years. The Tornado was in operation for even longer, jointly developed with Italy and West Germany, the first arriving on RAF service in 1980 and the last retiring in 2019.

The GCAP HQ will see hundreds of UK jobs supported, with workers in the UK liaising closely with their counterparts in Italy and Japan. The first CEO will come from Japan, with the HQ responsible for delivering vital military capability, strengthening each country’s combat air industrial capability.

At present there are around 3,000 people in major combat air hubs across the UK, including the south-west and north-west of England, and in Edinburgh, with almost 600 organisations on contract across the country, including SMEs and academic institutions.

In terms of the air defence, the MOD is estimated to have spent £2billion in the UK over the last five years on technology, – with a further £600 million from industry – creating skills and capabilities to ensure the UK is ready to drive the programme forward.

Seen as crucial for the future of stability in the Euro Atlantic, Indo-Pacific and wider global security, GCAP is a strong example of UK global leadership in developing next generation military capability to deter and defeat threats to the UK and its allies.

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