UK announce plans to develop joint future fighter engine demonstrator with Japan

The UK and Japan have announced plans to develop a future fighter aircraft engine demonstrator, and sign a memorandum of cooperation to enable future development between the two nations.

Announced via a UK government press release on November 22, work on the engine demonstrator will commence in early 2022. The work will be led by industry from both nations, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI, and Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems in the UK.

The UK is to initially invest £30m in planning, designs, and innovative manufacturing developments. A further £200m UK investment is expected towards a full-scale demonstrator power system. This will support hundreds of jobs, including many at Rolls-Royce’s Bristol facility.

Concept image of Tempest aircraft, highlighting the power source. Team tempest


Being a critical part of both nations future combat air systems the next four years will see the UK invest upwards of £2bn into its major national and international project to develop a future combat air system. Japan is aiming to develop its future fighter aircraft to a similar timescale to replace the F-2 fighter aircraft.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Designing a brand-new combat air system with a fighter aircraft at its heart is a highly ambitious project so working with like-minded nations is vital.”

International partnership remains at the core of the Uk’s approach to combat air. The two countries also agreed a ‘Memorandum of Cooperation’ which enables both nations to pursue joint technologies together. The UK and Japanese Defence Ministries will explore the feasibility of further sub-systems collaboration throughout 2022. In the UK, this work will be undertaken by the Team Tempest industry partners: BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce.

This announcement comes after the Uk’s defence command paper released in March this year to strengthen defence relationships in the Indo-Pacific region, and after HMS Queen Elizabeth sailing to Japan on her maiden operational deployment.

“Building on the technological and industrial strengths of our two countries, we will be exploring a wide-ranging partnership across next-generation combat air technologies,” Wallace concluded.