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Japan-UK-Italy to Establish a New Sixth-Generation Fighter Jet

In a trilateral meeting held in Tokyo on December 14, the defence ministers of Japan, the United Kingdom (UK), and Italy signed an international treaty to establish a joint organization to look after the development of a new sixth-generation fighter jet. This initiative will be taken under the project of Global Combat Air Program (GCAP). All three countries have pledged to build this fighter jet by 2035. The treaty follows the establishment of a similar international organization for the development of Eurofighter Typhoon jets undertaken by Italy, Germany, Britain, and Spain. Modus Operandi: During the operation, the three countries planned to establish a joint organization by the name of ‘GCAP International Government Organization,’ or GIGO, in 2024. The Japanese Defense Ministry has announced that several hundred government officials will be assigned to the organization from each of the member countries. The headquarters will be in the UK and the first Chief Executive Officer will be from Japan. The GCAP is a landmark project that will take at least ten years to design, develop, manufacture, and deploy the fighter jet. The above treaty is of prime importance at this juncture for the project as it marks the continued commitment of the member nations to work towards ensuring peace and security in the world. Furthermore, the trilateral development of this global combat air program indicates the strategic importance of ongoing cooperation among European and East Asian nations that is premised on common values like democracy, freedom, rule of law, and human rights. Japan-Italy-UK Air Program: Given the current need for deterrence capacities for all nations, Japan’s Defense Minister Kihara Minoru emphasized the urgent need to strengthen deterrence capabilities. He said “continuing to maintain air superiority, which forms the basis of deterrence, is a serious challenge that we must accomplish.” According to British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps “the risks and problems from Europe to the Indo-Pacific are clear for all to see. And so it is enormously important that we join together across our nations to produce this kind of security for our skies.” Both the defense secretaries echoed similar concerns and commitments to improve the security facilities of the countries and the world through this move. Furthermore, Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said that “the fact that we are here today is for Italy, and I think for all of us, a very important milestone for the GCAP program and at the same time a very strong message, because our partnership is a message to the rest of the world.” He further stressed the importance of technological development through the joint development of the new fighter jet expressing how “military technology is diverted to civilian use. Military research also benefits industry.” Under the project, GIGO plans to work with the governments of all three countries along with the concerned private sectors. The companies involved are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Britain’s BAE Systems PLC, and Italy’s Leonardo. If the countries are able to overcome some of the few challenges that such a large-scale program entails, this treaty would prove to be one of the milestone moments towards promoting global security.