Luftkampfsystem der Zukunft: Großbritannen und Italien holen Japan dazu

Im Wettrennen um das Luftkampfsystem der Zukunft haben Großbritannien und Italien ihr gemeinsames Projekt für ein neues Kampfflugzeug um den Partner Japan erweitert. Der britische Premierminister Rishi Sunak kündigte das bei einem Besuch bei der Royal Air Force (RAF) an – und eröffnete damit zugleich ein neues Kapitel im (europäischen) Wettlauf gegen das deutsch-französisch-spanische Luftkampfsystem FCAS.

Vor Sunaks Besuch auf der RAF-Airbase Conningsby hatte Downing Street No.10, der Amtssitz des Premierministers, bereits die wesentlichen Eckpunkte veröffentlicht:

The UK will work with Italy and Japan to adapt and respond to the security threats of the future, through an unprecedented international aerospace coalition announced by the Prime Minister today (Friday).
The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) is a new partnership and ambitious endeavour between the UK, Japan and Italy to deliver the next generation of combat air fighter jets.
Due to take to the skies by 2035, the ambition is for this to be a next-generation jet enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons and innovative data systems.
By combining forces with Italy and Japan on the next phase of the programme, the UK will utilise their expertise, share costs and ensure the RAF remains interoperable with our closest partners. The project is expected to create high-skilled jobs in all three countries, strengthening our industrial base and driving innovation with benefits beyond pure military use.
The Prime Minister said:
The security of the United Kingdom, both today and for future generations, will always be of paramount importance to this Government.
That’s why we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence technology – outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm.
The international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible. The next-generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives.
It is anticipated that more likeminded countries may buy into GCAP in due course or collaborate on wider capabilities – boosting UK exports. The combat aircraft developed through GCAP is also expected to be compatible with other NATO partners’ fighter jets. (…)
The UK, Italy and Japan will now work intensively to establish the core platform concept and set up the structures needed to deliver this massive defence project, ready to launch the development phase in 2025. Ahead of the development phase, partners will also agree the cost-sharing arrangements based on a joint assessment of costs and national budgets.
Alongside the development of the core future combat aircraft with Italy and Japan, the UK will assess our needs on any additional capabilities, for example weapons and Uncrewed Air Vehicles.

Das zwischen den drei Ländern vereinbarte Global Combat Air Programme sieht nach dem aus, was im FCAS-Projekt das Next Generation Weapons System ist: Das Kampfflugzeug der nächsten Generation, (noch) nicht das System of Systems mit der Einbindung unbemannter Systeme oder der so genannten Combat Cloud. Auch wenn noch etliche Fragen offen sind – zum Beispiel, wo Schweden ist, das eigentlich an dem britisch-italienischen Programm beteiligt sein sollte – ist allein die Ansage due to take to the skies by 2035 offensichtlich auf FCAS gezielt: Das deutsch-französisch-spanische System ist inzwischen beim Zeithorizont ab 2040 angekommen.

Zu dem neuen Programm zusammen mit Japan eine erste Übersicht des Kollegen Gareth Jennings von Jane’s via Twitter:

As heralded, #UK, #Italy, and #Japan have merged their #Tempest and F-X future fighter projects into the Global Combat Air Programme (#GCAP). With a @JanesINTEL story inbound, a short thread of some key points…
While the UK led Tempest and Japan drove F-X, the GCAP will have no lead nation or company. Programme will be a ‚partnership of equals‘, with @BAESystemsAir heading up development on behalf of the UK, @Leonardo_live for Italy, and @MHI_Group for Japan. 2/7 Image
For the UK, #FCAS will continue to address future requirements that include a manned fighter, and other capabilities in air domain. The manned fighter to be developed under GCAP will continue to be named #Tempest, while Japan has not said if its F-X will still become the F-3.
GCAP timelines remain as per Tempest and F-X, which were both aiming for a 2035 in-service date. Ahead of development phase in 2024, cost-sharing based on a joint assessment of costs and national budgets to be agreed. Tempest demonstrator still set to fly by 2027.
In bringing projects together, the partners already have well aligned requirements. “We wouldn’t be embarking on it if we didn’t think we would get the capability we wanted.” – UK. (the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed design changes in images compared to recent model). Image
Alongside development of the GCAP core future combat aircraft with Italy and Japan, UK will independently assess its needs on any additional capabilities, such as weapons and ‘loyal wingmen’.
The GCAP partnership is open to new international members, but while the UK-led FCAS also involved #Sweden that nation was not mentioned in the latest announcement. Saab CEO recently noted Sweden’s FCAS participation is „in hibernation“.
UK government will be pleased that what was initially a European project with Italy and Sweden, is now a global one with Japan. See #GlobalBritain.
Also, with Japan onboard, GCAP has broken narrative that Europe cannot sustain two next-gen fighter projects.

Vor allem der letzte Satz lässt aufhorchen.

Ergänzung: Die Financial Times geht auf die Motivation Japans zur Beteiligung an dem Programm ein:

The deal, which required years of negotiation, marks an unprecedented departure for Japan. It has historically worked exclusively with US partners for big military equipment but has sought deeper security ties with a range of allies to prepare for the possibility of a war with China over Taiwan. (…)
People with direct knowledge of the discussions said Tokyo’s decision to partner with the UK and Italy was driven by growing concerns in government and industry that its domestic defence sector would be unable to maintain its capability to develop modern military equipment and weapons by depending solely on the US, which tends to keep its cutting-edge technology to itself.

(Foto: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak views aircraft models at number 11 (fighter) Squadron, RAF Conningsby – Simon Walker/Royal Air Force Photographer/No10 Downing Street/Crown copyright 2022/MOD News License)