The defence ministers of Italy, Japan and the UK have signed a treaty covering the joint organisation that will manage their Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

Dubbed the GCAP International Government Organisation, or GIGO, the framework “marks an important agreement in the shared design and delivery of a next-generation fighter aircraft by 2035”, according to the industry group tasked with developing it.

The pact was signed in Tokyo on 14 December by ministers Guido Crosetto, Minoru Kihara and Grant Shapps.

GCAP pair over Tokyo

Source: BAE Systems

GCAP effort will deliver a new fighter for Italy, Japan and the UK

The UK Ministry of Defence notes that the treaty’s signature one year after the trilateral GCAP effort was launched “highlights the positive progress made” to date.

“Through its ambition, the programme will maintain the competitiveness of our industries at an international level,” says Leonardo GCAP director Guglielmo Maviglia.

“We would like to work even more closely with our partners in Italy and the UK to promote GCAP,” says Hitoshi Shiraishi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ senior fellow for the project. “We will also work to ensure that GCAP contributes to strengthening Japan’s defence capabilities,” he adds.

Under the agreement, a GCAP government headquarters will be established in the UK, “responsible for delivering vital military capability, strengthening each country’s combat air industrial capability, and achieving value for money”. Its first chief executive will be a Japanese official.

A ‘joint business construct’ also will be headquartered in the UK, to “oversee support and timely delivery of the programme”, with an Italian as its first chief executive.

The GCAP effort builds on the earlier work of the UK-only Team Tempest, which involves BAE, Rolls-Royce and the national arms of Leonardo and MBDA.

“We welcome the agreement signed by the governments of Italy, Japan and the UK today, and the continued progress with our industrial partners to advance the future joint business construct,” says Herman Claesen, managing director, Future Combat Air Systems, at BAE Systems’ Air sector.

“Discussions on the future joint industrial construct to deliver GCAP are continuing, with representatives from Leonardo, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and BAE Systems meeting recently in Tokyo,” the companies say.

However, Japan’s defence ministry says: “The three ministers confirmed the work distribution will be proportionate to each country’s contribution by financial and technical means under the spirit of equal partnership.”

The GCAP effort’s joint development phase is due to be launched in 2025.