ROME – The head of Italy’s air force will travel to Japan next month to hold talks with his Japanese counterpart on sixth-generation combat technology cooperation.
General Luca Goretti said the visit is an opportunity to explore what ambitions Rome and Tokyo share for next-generation fighters and what technologies can and cannot be shared by the nations.
“In October, I was invited to Japan by the chief of the Japanese Air Force to discuss joint programs – it will be the opportunity to share our vision and our common point of view,” Goretti said in an interview with Defense News.
Italy is collaborating with Britain on the Tempest fighter jet program, while Japan is continuing its FX program to build a replacement for the Mitsubishi F-2.
At this year’s Farnborough Airshow, Britain announced it would conduct a “joint concept analysis” with Japan and Italy on sixth-generation technology, after a spate of engine and sensor deals was announced between British and Japanese firms to get the ball rolling bring to.
“The Japanese could take technology from Tempest to add to their FX program. We’ll understand better when we see what the industry can do,” Goretti said.
He also suggested that Japan could join Tempest, stating, “Having a partner like Japan join a program could be an opportunity to better understand each other’s reality.”
Any cooperation must take into account Japan’s operational area and the best technology exchange, he said.
“Our area of operations is centered on the Mediterranean and on our alliances, NATO and Europe. That’s our main focus,” he said.
Using the acronym FCAS to describe the Tempest program, he added: “The FCAS development phases are being conducted to avoid breaching the security of the NATO alliance, as the exchange of technologies is being conducted with strict attention to all security aspects.”
He added: “NATO and Japan have different areas of strategic interest, and experts are working on the operational concept and how information can be exchanged securely.”
Italy has pledged to spend 220 million euros ($218 million) on Tempest work this year and projects spending 3.8 billion euros ($3.77 billion) by 2036.
Meanwhile, the work of France, Spain and Germany on a separate program of the sixth generation of labor-sharing disputes between prime contractors Dassault and Airbus Defense and Space has been caught up.
Goretti predicted that Tempest and the Franco-German project could still merge.
“These programs require huge investments that individual nations cannot afford, so nations are trying to cut costs. It has happened with Tornado and with Eurofighter and will happen again,” he said.
“The French and Germans went one way, but we cannot have two platforms doing the same thing in Europe. It cannot be economically sustainable. It is logical to say that once nations have defined their requirements, it is very likely that we will see convergence towards a single platform,” he said.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.