Japan, Britain and Italy likely to announce joint fighter project as early as next week

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo

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Not gonna end well. They’ll all be botching about roles, and who gets to produce what, then they’ll be cost arguments, then they’ll be the typical Japanese leak, then the over run then the ice run costs. Then someone will throw their teddy bear in the corner. Then we’ll get a new plane, or someone, probably the Brit’s, bail out and buy some cheap jet off the shelf.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

There is an interventionist country that is not going to like this news..

It's going to start its geopolitic tantrums, "Japan, buy my planes, buahhh."..

Sore losers, lol..

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

USA won’t like this. We may be sanctioned.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

It is past time for the other liberal democracies to carry their fair share of the burden of protecting us all from the dictatorships.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The US has not in the past complained when European nations produced their own combat aircraft like the Tornado, Typhoon, Gripen or earlier types like the English Electric Lightning and the Blackburn Buccaneer, an old airplane nearing retirement that proved its mettel during Desert Storm. The AV-8 Harrier would not have been built if it were not for the USMC fudning and advocating for it. The US hasn't sanctioned the Germans or Italians for building competing helicopter gunships. The US will more than welcome the Tempest in Europe and in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )


who gets to produce what

Let me guess

1) UK : 37.5% of value


Airframe engineering

Engine Core

Systems Integration

2) Japan : 37.5% of value

Composite fuselage construction

Low-pressure section of the engine

AESA radar element

3) Italy : 25% of value

AESA radar and EO sensors


This is basically a British project with Japanese and Italian subcontractors.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I don't see the US getting in the way of this partnership. It isn't like the US isn't developing 2 new stealth fighters today.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Collaborations of this nature fall apart as often as they succeed. The failure road would be because each nation has requirements and ensuring all are met by a new design are difficult to put it mildly. The same happens for armoured vehicles and weapons systems.

If they can agree on the jets required capabilities as seen by each member, and that does not alter then the chances of success are good. Chances are one or more will alter their needs which often leades to a breakup and going seperate ways all using the developments to that point to build their own design.

All nations will want to be able to build in their own nation and that is fine, having three separate locations provides redundancy if any one nation is attacked and loses their production capabilities for a time.

Having collaboration and cost sharing in the design phase can benefit all three nations. Lets hope they manage to pull it off and create a niche fighter jet. It should be based on a requirement for air superiority as the F-35 is an all rounder but has slow speed (Mach 1.6) and once spotted is not an air superiority capable plane. A faster (Mach 2.5), super maneuverable air dominance fighter to work hand in hand with the F-35 seems to make the most sense.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yeah, not gonna end well. Italy is likely to be first to abandon ship. They have a new leader.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Three basketcase economies. This will end well.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )


A faster (Mach 2.5), super maneuverable air dominance fighter to work hand in hand with the F-35 seems to make the most sense.

That's not what Japan's asking for. Japan's asking for an ultra-long range strike aircraft able to make strike missions from Okinawa to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea unrefueled.

Likewise UK is focused on electricity generation capacity to [power all the high power computing, AESA radars, and possibly laser weapons.

Neither put speed on high priority list and high speed is incompatible with requirements of long range and high power generation.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If we look at the most successful fighters proven in real battles, the US made fighters are by far the leaders in outcomes. Training leads to much of the results, but when you see a 100+ air-to-air wins for a specific aircraft with zero losses by other aircraft and 1-2 successful ground attacks, that's pretty impressive.

For air-superiority, the

(air-to-air wins, loses, loses from ground fire):

F-16 (76-1-5)

F-14 (135-4-4)

F-15 (102-0-0)

worldwide have excellent engagement results.

Some US aircraft sorta suck:

F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger 25-23-30

F-4 Phantom 306-106-545 (SAMs were tough on the F-4)

The F/A-18 has too few encounters to matter.

Compared to the non-US aircraft:

MiG-21 240-501-unknown

MiG-23 25-102-unknown

MiG-25 8-8-1

MiG-29 6-18-1

Su-27 6-0-2

Mirage F.1 24-43-20

The F-22 hasn't flown in combat that we know, but in all mock encounters with prior generation aircraft, it has wiped them out, usually without being seen at all until it is too late. That isn't to say that the F-22 isn't seen by any radar, since it is. But different radars have different wave lengths and using many different wavelengths is needed to locate any stealth aircraft, integrate that data with other wavelengths to get an A2A missile close enough for non-radar based attacks to work. There's no aircraft that is 100% invisible to all radars. Mission planning is a key aspect to avoid being seen before it is far too late for any response. Effective stealth missions require complex planning and a little luck to be effective.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The F-22 hasn't flown in combat that we know, 

They were used in combat over Syria in early February 2018 when a US Army outpost protecting a gas field was attacked by Syrian regulars and Wagner mercenaries. 30 Delta Force troops and Army Rangers were guarding a Conoco gas plant in northeastern Syria. They were surrouned by a force of some 500 Wagners and Syrian Army troops. The Syrian/Russian force was under surveillance and when they attacked the post with artillery US airpower came into play. There was a roughly four hour long air assault and F-22s were heavily tasked. At the end there were no casualties among the US soldiers while, depending on the source, 200 to 300 Syrians and Wagners were killed.

F-22s routinely operate over Syria and by some accounts they have forced some 600 Russian and Syrian aircraft to back off attacks on US or allied aircraft. F-22s escort F/A-18s on bombing runs over Syria. F-22s provide air cover for French and UK aircraft attacking Syrian chemical weapons facilities. F-22s have apparently flown some deep strikes into Syria against heavily defended targets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A faster (Mach 2.5), super maneuverable air dominance fighter to work hand in hand with the F-35 seems to make the most sense.

The USAF has been testing their next, 6th generation, air superiority fighter. It is apparently ready for what is called Manufacturing and Engineering Development. Prototypes are flying today and according Air Force General Roper, the prototypes have broken some records, though he did not specifiy what. Read up on something the AIr Force calls NGAD for Next Generation Air Dominance. Its existance was revealed a year ago, but little since other than some vague programmatic wording you would have to be a defense acquisition type or budget nerd (me) to understand.

Btw, did anyone here watch the live stream of the unveiling of the B-21 last night?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having collaboration and cost sharing in the design phase can benefit all three nations. Lets hope they manage to pull it off and create a niche fighter jet. It should be based on a requirement for air superiority as the F-35 is an all rounder but has slow speed (Mach 1.6) and once spotted is not an air superiority capable plane.

The F-16 and legacy F/A-18s all have top speeds well below Mach 2. Why? For reasons of cost and simplicity they don't have the variable geometry intakes that faster aircraft need to slow the intake airstream down to subsonic speed before it hits the compressor. Turbine engines require inlet airspeeds to be subsonic. Variable geometry inlets are costly and require costly maintenance, which kind of defeats efforts to constrain ownership costs. An F-15 costs some $23,000 per flight hour compared to about $9,000 per for an F-16. I haven't heard anyone whine about the F-16 being a poor dogfighter. In real life dogfights are almost always subsonic. A fighter can use the speed to get to a fight at the expense or range and the ability to stay in the fight once there, and can use high acceleration to disengage from a fight when they hit "bingo fuel" ( minimum fuel to make it home or to the tanker) but all that turnin' and burnin' of a furball happens at subsonice or at most transonic speeds. Same for ground attack. Fighters don't go supersonic all that often.

In real life, outside of the keyboard warriors, nobody outside of the program office, the aircrew flying them and a limited number of top commanders very few know what the F-35 can do and those who do aren't blogging about it. But from the little I do know if an F-35 ends up in a dogfight an awful lot of things had to go wrong with its mission plan to end up in that situation. There is almost no reason for that airplane to ever be detected if the mission plan it launches with was done right.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Btw, the raison d-etre for the F-35 is not air to air. It is really the heir to the F-117s mission, a stealthy go anywhere into the most heavily defended airspace ground attack aircraft. But consider that unlike any other fighter except maybe the F-22, the F-35 is a surveillance platform and a node in a command and control system able to integrate data from its own sensors and from multiple outboard sensors (satellites, UASs, other manned aircraft, ground radar, etc) and come up with a very complete 3D picture of the battlespace for the pilot. The helmet mounted sights are such that the pilot can look down at his or her feet and the helmet is feeding targeting data from sensors on the aircraft and elsewhere as if the bottom of the aircraft were as transparent as the canopy. The AESA radars can, at least in theory, focus a beam of radar energy on a point in space, like maybe an enemy missile or aircraft and disable it. It is not a conventional combat aircraft in any way so forget what you think you know abour air combat when thinking about the F-35.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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