According to two sources familiar with the proposal, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy will announce a breakthrough agreement to jointly create a new advanced jet fighter as early as next week.
For Tokyo and London, it is the climax of ever-closer defence ties, which will offer Britain a larger security role in Asia and provide Japan with new security partners to assist it confront neighbouring China’s expanding military force.
Reuters initially reported in July on the drive to integrate the British-led Tempest jet aircraft project with Japan’s F-X fighter programme. It will be the first time Japan has worked on a major defence equipment project with countries other than the United States.
According to the sources, the announcement will come before Japan announces a new national security strategy and military procurement plan in mid-December.
This arms buildup, which could double the country’s defence budget to around 5% of GDP over the next five years, will pay for new weapons such as long-range missiles designed to deter China from engaging in military action in and around the East China Sea.
According to the sources, talks on the new jet fighter, which will be led by BAE Systems Plc and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, will continue next year to iron out details such as work share and the designs of variants that each partner will deploy.
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