Rishi Sunak is poised to unveil a collaboration between the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan to construct an artificial intelligence-powered fighter plane.
According to the prime minister, the joint company will create thousands of jobs in the UK and boost security relations.
The countries will work together to create a next-generation fighter, which will enter service in the mid-2030s and eventually replace the Typhoon jet.
It is hoped that the new Tempest jet would be equipped with cutting-edge armaments.
Work on it is already underway, to create a combat aircraft that will give fast stealth, use advanced sensors, and even artificial intelligence to assist the human pilot when overwhelmed or under tremendous stress.
It could also fly without a pilot’s input if necessary, and it could launch hypersonic missiles.
But because producing such a complicated aircraft is exceedingly expensive – developing the F35 jet was the Pentagon’s most expensive program ever – Britain has been hunting for partners.
Italy was already on board, and the addition of Japan is crucial – especially at a time when Britain is strengthening connections with Indo-Pacific allies concerned about a more assertive China.
Other countries may still participate in the program. France, Germany, and Spain are already collaborating on their distinct design, as is the United States.
For the United Kingdom, this pact is about more than just security. The expectation is that developing a new fighter jet will create and sustain thousands of employees in the UK, as well as open the door to greater arms exports.
Mr. Sunak will kick off the program’s first major phase on Friday at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.