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Industry partners agree on next steps for GCAP fighter

BAE Systems (UK), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), and Leonardo SpA (Italy) have agreed a trilateral collaboration agreement to deliver the concept phase requirements of a next-generation combat aircraft for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

BAE Systems (UK), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), and Leonardo SpA (Italy) have agreed a trilateral collaboration agreement to deliver the concept phase requirements of a next-generation combat aircraft for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) is a strategically important partnership between the UK, Japan, and Italy, which brings together the three nations and their respective industries to collaborate on shared military and industrial objectives in the delivery of a truly next-generation combat aircraft in 2035.

This latest agreement between the three nations and their respective industrial representation builds on positive momentum and strong trilateral cooperation, and will involve the industry partners’ maturing integration, collaboration, and sharing of information towards the next phase of GCAP.

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Herman Claesen, managing director, Future Combat Air Systems, welcomed the latest collaborative development, saying, “We have maintained a high tempo of engagement with our industrial and government partners in Italy and Japan since the launch of GCAP. The collaboration agreement signals the strong alignment across all three nations to meet common goals and objectives on the program to deliver a truly international, next-generation combat aircraft.”

These comments and the sentiment behind the growing industrial collaboration between the three nations and businesses were echoed by Hitoshi Shiraishi, Senior Fellow, GCAP, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, who added, “We are truly honoured to be part of GCAP and will bring all of our considerable knowledge accumulated through previous programs to the table. The collaboration agreement is one of the key steps to ensure our mutual success. We have already started cooperating closely with our UK and Italian partners and believe that our mix of cultures and diverse perspectives will contribute to the success of this program.”

The collaboration agreement supports ongoing discussions to set out long-term working arrangements and maturity of the concept and capability requirements for the next-generation combat aircraft.

Guglielmo Maviglia, director GCAP Programme, Leonardo SpA, added, “This trilateral collaboration on the program, for the development of a next-generation system, represents the flagship of the distinctive capabilities and disruptive technologies that the partners of the three nations will share, in an innovative way, for the success of the program. Participation in DSEI London fits perfectly into our progress of the collaboration and consolidates more than ever the strong ties created between the partner companies of Italy, the UK, and Japan.

“In this context, we are particularly proud to be able to contribute to the future and the prosperity of the generations to come with significant implications for security and technological development, as well as in the field of research and innovation in the aerospace and defence sectors,” Maviglia added.

BAE Systems describes the “GCAP is a hugely significant program for the security, political, and economic prosperity of each nation and through effective knowledge and technology transfer will help to evolve and deliver important sovereign combat air capability in each nation for generations to come”.

Announced in December 2022, the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) builds on the substantial progress already made in the UK by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce, and the UK Ministry of Defence through the Team Tempest partnership.

Team Tempest has been researching and evaluating a host of future combat air system capabilities since 2018 and will continue to develop the technologies needed to deliver next-generation combat air capability.

The UK industry partners have already generated strong working relationships with their counterparts in Italy and Japan, which will progress into the new joint development. These include IHI Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, and Avio Aero, Elettronica, Leonardo, and MBDA in Italy.

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