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US to Include Japan in Future Drone Wingman Project

The US will collaborate with Japan on a next-generation drone project, US Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said.

The collaborative combat aircraft (CCA) project will be developed solely by US contractors. However, “there will be other opportunities” to work with Japan, Nikkei Asia quoted Kendall as saying.

“What we’re planning is a program of increasing performance over time,” Kendall said, adding that “we’re going to continue to mature this technology and advance it in additional increments.”

Collaborative Combat Aircraft

The US Air Force recently contracted five companies for the uncrewed project, namely Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Anduril, and General Atomics.

The CCA will fly alongside a manned aircraft for missions such as electronic warfare, air defense suppression, or as an additional weapons bay.

It is a risk-free option to unlock China’s integrated air defense system architecture during a potential conflict.

Around 1,000 CCAs are expected to be inducted, beginning by the end of the decade.

US-Japan AI Agreement

The project will be built on the recently signed joint research agreement to merge AI and machine learning with advanced unmanned air vehicles.

The aircraft the collaboration will develop is intended to fly alongside Japan’s next-generation fighter aircraft, which Tokyo is developing with the UK and Italy.

“I think there is a lot of technical capability that Japan can bring to the table and that we can all benefit from working together,” Nikkei Asia quoted Kendall as saying. 

“I’m hopeful that we’ll find ways to do that and expand beyond some of the things that we’re doing now in the technology area.”

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