LONDON. The British Defense Minister Ben Wallace he certainly hadn’t gone to Italy the other day to meet his counterpart by chance Guido Crosetto. Of course, there was talk of Ukraine, of NATO, but also and above all of the new common defense projects to be inextricably welded. Including the most important, also in terms of research and development, and which will be announced today by the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visiting the British military base “RAF Coningsby”. And that is the eagerly awaited “Global Combat Air Programme” (Gcap), wording for the new and ambitious partnership between Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan to complete the sixth generation of combat aircraft. In a word: the invisible Tempest superfighter, whose Anglo-Italian project will now merge with that of the Japanese stealth FX. The development will materially see the light from 2024 and the fighter by 2035 will have to replace the old Eurofighter Typhoon. In short, the most important military program of the near future, in terms of cost and technological level.
In a joint statement between Sunak, the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Japanese premier Fumio Kishida it reads: “This is an important day because we believe in the free, open and rules-based international order, which is more important today than ever at a time when these principles are contested and threats and aggression are growing”. A reference to Russia’s war in Ukraine but also to Chinese aims on Taiwan. “We must protect our democracy, economy and security, as well as regional stability, concepts that are more important than ever. For this, today there is a need for strong defense and security partnerships, to create and strengthen a credible deterrent. Hence the importance of the Gcap”.
“Our security and that of future generations is fundamental”, Sunak will say today, “for this reason we must be at the forefront of defense technology, to rout and anticipate those who want to harm us. We are announcing today this international partnership with Italy and Japan is aiming for just that, as well as emphasizing that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible.The new generation of fighter aircraft we are designing will defend us and our allies, and create jobs as well as save lives”. The British Defense Minister Wallace will add: “With Italy and Japan we will create the new combat aircraft, thanks to our knowledge and technologies”.
The Tempest and the sixth generation of fighters will be aircraft that will be able to go manned or unmanned thanks to state-of-the-art sensors and weapons (still unclear, but perhaps even hypersonic in the future) and innovative data systems. Because threats have evolved, British sources point out. And so, after the fifth generation of stealth aircraft, now it will be the turn of Tempest and its possible sixth generation brothers, who among other things accumulate a flood of data in their action thanks to artificial intelligence that will allow them to operate in very complex and full of new threats, including those related to the electromagnetic spectrum. Objective: to provide an air defense never seen in the past. For Italy, Leonardo has been at the forefront for years, for Japan Mitsubishi which has so far dealt with FX, BAE Systems for the British, but we learn that the project is open to other collaborations.
“Our defense cooperation will be strengthened”, explain Meloni, Sunak and Kishida, “we will integrate intelligence, science, technologies, supply chains, to create jobs and attract new investments, sharing costs and benefits, but without limiting the development of individual countries in the future”. For this project, Italy has already put 3.8 billion euros on the table by 2035 and has a long and deep defense collaboration with the British for the previous Tornado and Typhoon projects. There is no country at the helm, all three are at the same level, insist London. And the work between the UK, Italy and Japan is facilitated by their sharing of experiences and data already for fifth generation fighters.
Obviously, in addition to the partnership in defense and technology, there is a lot of geopolitics in the fusion of intents of the Gcap. Certainly, by joining the UK and Japan, Italy is moving away from European defense and from the parallel project of France, Germany and Spain “Scaf”, which so far seems to be behind. Furthermore, a London-Rome-Tokyo axis, in addition to the pro-Ukrainian alliance against aggression from Russia, shifts the center of gravity of the defense significantly also towards the Indo-Pacific. In fact, last night in London there was talk of a decidedly continuous link between Gcap and the “Aukus” deterrent, i.e. the alliance between the US, the UK and Australia on anti-China nuclear submarines which so infuriated the “excluded” Emmanuel Macron.
However, Meloni, Sunak and Kishida underline how “this program was conceived with the other Allies and partners at the heart of the project” and promise “interoperability with the United States and the other NATO, European and Indo-Pacific countries We have ambitions for this new aircraft, the Tempest, to be at the center of a system that works across multiple scenarios. It is our hope that the GCAP will be a cornerstone of global security, stability and prosperity for decades to come. in the world“.