Japan strengthens ties with its Western allies, with Britain and Italy finally making progress after months of talks regarding its next-generation combat jet project cooperation on Friday, December 9. This marks Japan’s first major industrial defense collaboration outside the United States since World War II, serving as a significant bridge to further deepen the relations between Europe and Asia.

Reuters reported in July that after five long years of dialogue, London and Tokyo agreed to merge their next-generation jet fighter programs, Britain’s Future Combat Air System, known as Tempest, and Japan’s F-X venture dubbed as the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

With tensions on the rise in Asia, Japan hopes the project will help boost its military capability and defend itself against its hostile neighbors, while Britain aims to take on a bigger role as a security ally in the region. Regional stability equals global economic growth, the key factor the latter aims to maintain.

“We are committed to upholding the rule-based, free, and open international order, which is more important than ever at a time when these principles are contested, and threats and aggression are increasing,” the three nations said in a joint statement.

Among the many factors that pushed the two nations to collaborate is to share development costs that would lessen both sides’ defense spending. And again, this would enable Britain to increase its presence in Asia and a chance for Japan to expand partnerships beyond the United States.


Britain’s Next-Gen Tempest x Japan’s F-X jet fighters

Britain’s Tempest is a proposed sixth-generation jet fighter developed by BAE Systems in 2015 for the country’s Royal Air Force (RAF) intended to replace its current twin-engine Eurofighter Typhoon. Italy and Sweden joined the collaboration, signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2020, while Japan, led by Mitshubishi Heavy Industries, has been in talks with the UK on a potential joint venture of developing engine and radar demonstrators for the future stealth jet.