BAE Systems sets its sights on new Japanese stealth fighter

British defence giant is developing Tempest future fighter which could sway Japan's decision as it faces up against US military contractors

F-X jet
How Japan's new F-X jet could look 

British technology could be taking to the skies aboard Japan’s next-generation fighter, with BAE Systems offering its expertise for the planned stealth jet.

BAE has responded to the Japanese Ministry of Defence’s “request for information” about how it could provide technical assistance on the new jet, known as the F-X. 

The FTSE 100 company will be up against US defence contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin who have also applied, Japan’s defence minister said.

BAE is developing a home-grown future fighter called Tempest, partnering with companies including Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA.

Italy and Sweden have also signed up to develop Tempest, which could be in service with the RAF in 2035 if the project gets the go-ahead.

Japan had been touted as a contender to join the programme, but now seems likely to want to develop its own aircraft, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries having been announced as the main contractor last week. 

Making the new jet a domestic-led project would bolster Japan’s defence sector and reduce reliance on other countries, giving Tokyo freedom of action. 

The Tempest jet which BAE is working with Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA on 

However, technologies being developed for Tempest - such as laser weapons, autonomous flight and AI control - could find their way into the F-X if BAE comes on board.

Working together on systems that could be used across both the Tempest and the F-X has the potential to reduce costs. 

BAE said its response to Japan’s request “outlines technical capabilities across a range of key areas, which BAE Systems can offer in supporting development of the F-X”.

Andy Latham of BAE said: “We firmly believe that we can add significant value to the F-X. We have decades of experience of partnering with nations around the world to deliver sovereign capability.”

The development came with the German government expected to confirm on Thursday that it will purchase 38 Typhoon jets. 

The Eurofighter consortium that makes the Typhoon is one-third owned by BAE. Although fellow member Airbus is likely to build the aircraft in Germany, an order would give a boost to the British company, along with other UK-based defence businesses which supply components for the fighter.