Japan, UK, Italy to Send Hundreds of Officials to New Organization for Fighter Jet Development; Plan to Be Agreed Thursday

Reuters file photo
A concept model of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP)’s fighter jet is displayed at the DSEI Japan defense show at Makuhari Messe in Chiba in March.

Defense Ministers of Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy will agree to establish an international organization called GIGO for their planned joint development of a next-generation fighter jet at a meeting held in Tokyo on Thursday, according to government sources. Final arrangements are being made to send several hundred government officials from the three countries to the organization.

In order to dispatch its officials, the Defense Ministry plans to submit a draft amendment to the Law on Treatment of Personnel of the Ministry of Defense Dispatched to International Organizations, etc, to next year’s ordinary Diet session.

This will be the first time for Japan to participate in the establishment of a multilateral international organization for the joint development of defense equipment, and the number of officials to be dispatched is likely to be exceptionally large, as it is part of an international organization.

Currently, the government of each country has individual contracts with companies for the development of the next-generation fighter jet. In order to put an efficient cooperative system in place, GIGO will be established, and it will sign contracts with private-sector joint ventures, according to sources.

A similar international organization was established for the joint development of the Eurofighter jet by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

GIGO will consist of a “steering committee” of representatives from the three countries and an “implementing agency.” The first head of the implementing agency is expected to be Japanese, and the organization is planned to be headquartered in the United Kingdom. An official decision will be reached at the Thursday meeting among Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, his British counterpart Grant Shapps and Italian counterpart Guido Crosetto.

Under the current law, the deployment of Defense Ministry personnel to international organizations is limited to such purposes as arms control, disarmament and humanitarian activities. The ministry intends to add an item related to international joint development of defense equipment.

In Japan, the next-generation fighter jet will be the successor to the Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2 fighter jet, with the aim of deployment in fiscal 2035. This is the first time for Japan to conduct joint development of defense equipment with a country other than the United States.