Treaty on GCAP jet fighter project to be signed by end-2023, Italy says

ROME (Reuters) – A treaty for the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) jet fighter programme will be signed in Tokyo by the end of the year, Italy’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Italy, Britain and Japan agreed in December 2022 to collaborate to build an advanced front-line fighter to enter service around the middle of the next decade.

The Italian ministry issued a statement a day after three-way talks in Rome between the Italian and British defence ministers and a special advisor to the Japanese defence minister.

GCAP will be “a trilateral project based on equal participation in terms of costs and benefits, as well as on our three countries sharing the best technology”, Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said.

GCAP is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars but the three participating countries have not yet finalised how the budget will be split.

In March, Reuters reported that Britain and Japan would dominate the programme, leaving Italy in a junior role, but Rome officials have repeatedly said they will be equal partners.

Parliamentary ratification will follow the signing of the treaty, the ministerial statement added.

Britain’s BAE Systems , Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Italy’s Leonardo are involved in the project.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Giulia Segreti and Keith Weir)