UK And Japan To Commence Joint Development Of Future Fighter Jet Engine Demonstrator In 2022

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced on Wednesday that it would be jointly developing a future fighter aircraft engine demonstrator with Japan. The demonstrator will inform the development of propulsion systems for both the Tempest Future Combat Air System and F-X programs.

Development work on the joint engine demonstrator will start in early 2022, with an initial £30 million invested by the United Kingdom in planning, digital designs and “innovative manufacturing developments”. A subsequent £200 million round of UK funding is planned for the development of a full-scale demonstrator power system, with the Ministry of Defence saying that it will support “hundreds” of highly skilled jobs at sites like Rolls-Royce’s Filton facility in Bristol.

Alex Zino, Director of Business Development and Future Programmes at Rolls-Royce, said of the agreement:

“Across Rolls-Royce we have a longstanding and valued relationship with our customers and industry partners in Japan. The industry teams in both UK and Japan bring complementary technologies that will drive cleaner, next generation power and propulsion for both nations future fighter requirements.

The joint engine demonstrator programme is an exciting opportunity to bring together some of the best combat air capabilities in the world and will also enable the development of innovative and critical technologies that will be fundamental to the future of the Defence aerospace industry.”

An XF9-1 jet engine, a prototype engine developed by IHI and Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency to research engine technologies for the F-X. (Japanese Ministry of Defense)

Also announced was the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between the UK and Japanese Defence Ministries on the pursuit of jointly developed technologies. The memorandum will guide the exploration of the feasibility of further sub-systems collaboration throughout 2022. Team Tempest’s industry partners will be carrying out UK-based efforts, with current members of the Tempest program consortium including BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce.

The announcements build on a previous announcement in July on collaboration between Tempest FCAS and F-X, with the Royal Air Force’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston saying at the time that it would have a “special focus on engine and propulsion systems”. The July announcement followed a meeting between British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo in Tokyo earlier that month, with both agreeing to accelerate discussions on jointly developing subsystems for both aircraft.

UK Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said:

“As I have seen at first hand our partners in Japan have made enormous progress on technologies that can complement our own advanced skills and could help ensure both our Armed Forces remain at the forefront of military innovation.

We look forward to the continued partnership with a formidable power and close ally.”