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Britain and Japan Collaborate on Next-Gen Fighter Engine

London’s Investment Could Rise to £230 Million

The United Kingdom and Japan have announced plans to jointly develop a jet engine demonstrator appropriate for their respective Tempest and F-X next-generation fighter aircraft programmes.

In a 22 December statement, the MoD in London said that work on the joint engine demonstrator, to be led by national air propulsion specialists IHI Corporation and Rolls-Royce, will kickstart early in 2022, with the UK set to invest an initial £30 million (€35.5 million) in “planning, digital designs. and innovative manufacturing developments”.

The ministry added that a further £200 million in UK funding is expected to go towards developing a full-scale demonstrator power system, supporting “hundreds of highly skilled jobs, including many at Rolls-Royce’s Filton facility in Bristol”.

It also noted that Britain will be investing over £2 billion in the international endeavour to design the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) – expected to combine a core aircraft, often referred to as Tempest, at the heart of a network of wider capabilities, such as UAS, sensors, weapons, and advanced data systems to form a next-generation capability expected to enter service from the mid-2030s. Tempest is being positioned to replace the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

In parallel, through its F-X programme, Tokyo is looking to develop a future fighter aircraft to a similar timescale to replace the JASDF’s Mitsubishi F-2 fighters. Japan is also working with the US in this endeavour, particularly with Lockheed Martin, and has been seeking additional partners to work on individual parts and sub-systems for the aircraft, including avionics.

In this regard, London revealed that a Memorandum of Cooperation was also recently signed to enable Japan and the UK to pursue joint technologies and explore the feasibility of further sub-systems collaboration throughout 2022. In the UK, this work will be undertaken by the Team Tempest industry partners: BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce, while in Japan it will be led by MHI.

UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said that this commitment with Japan is a clear example of London’s revised Indo-Pacific policy, which sees strengthening partnerships in the region as a “strategic priority”. Britain is also supporting Japan in the delivery of the Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) capability.

The latest developments come after the UK signed an MoU in 2019 with Italy and Sweden to collaborate on future combat air systems and technologies.

Gabriel Dominguez reporting for MON


A rendering of the Tempest aircraft. (Image: UK MoD/Crown copyright)

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