Japan will jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet with the UK and Italy, Asahi Shimbun reported, adding that a formal agreement is expected next month.
Tokyo is also planning to review the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology to allow the aircraft’s export.
Test flights are expected between 2028 and 2031, with induction in 2035, when the Japan Air Self-Defense Force F2 aircraft will retire.
Japan-UK Joint Project
Japanese defense firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and British defense giant BAE Systems will develop the aircraft with help from Italian firm Leonardo, according to the Japanese outlet.
British engine manufacturer Rolls Royce and Japan’s IHI will develop the aircraft engine along with Italy’s Avio.
A total of 90 twin-engine aircraft are expected to be produced at an expected cost of over 5 trillion yen ($48 billion).
More Missiles than F-35
The aircraft will succeed the Mitsubishi F2 and is expected to complement Japan’s fleet of 147 F-35 jets, considered insufficiently armed compared to peer platforms.
The new aircraft is expected to carry more air-to-air missiles than the F-35’s four, The National Interest wrote, quoting former Japanese defense minister Taro Kono, who also requested network functioning and high stealth performance from the aircraft.
The Chinese J-20 and the Russian Su-57 can carry six such missiles in their internal bay, while the F-22 can accommodate eight.