Thomas Reich, Vice President and General Manager of BAE International Japan, explained that there were two reasons for the establishment of the Japanese corporation.
One is that defense cooperation between Japan and the UK has recently been greatly strengthened. In accordance with the policy of multilateral security cooperation promoted by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has strengthened cooperation with countries in addition to the United States. One such country is the United Kingdom, and recent developments include the port call of Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, to the Yokosuka Naval Base in September 2021, followed by a telephone conference between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom.
In addition, the UK’s “Global Britain” following its exit from the EU, and the strengthening of the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region based on this, is also encouraging this trend. And since BAE, as the largest defense company based in the UK, supports these UK government policies, they are both aiming to strengthen their cooperative relationship with Japan.
Another reason is the view towards Japan held by BAE. Currently, BAE is positioning Japan as a strategic global market, along with India. And the direction that Japan is currently taking to strengthen its defense capabilities in terms of space, cyber, electronic warfare, and AI technology is a good match for BAE’s capabilities. Therefore, they have decided that now is the best time to strengthen cooperation with Japan.
This local corporation does not seem to be planning to manufacture any equipment for the time being, but will be in charge of all the products that BAE handles, and will not only export them, but will also cooperate with Japanese companies through licensed production and joint ventures. They are also interested in developing new technologies.
At this press conference, BAE’s involvement in the Queen Elizabeth-class was also explained. Therefore, the possibility of cooperation by BAE on aircraft carriers that Japan may have in the future could be considered.
On October 3, two F-35Bs from the U.S. Marine Corps conducted a launch and landing test on the Izumo, one of the largest ships in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). When I asked Thomas Reich if BAE was involved in any way with this test, I received the following answer:
“We were delighted to see the successful trials on board JS Izumo recently, particularly as the ability to conduct joint operations was also a key design feature of QEC. Although not directly involved in this recent set of trials, we hope that our integration knowledge and experience could be beneficial to Japan.”
It is said that the Izumo-class was designed to carry the F-35B from the beginning of its building, but even so, operating the F-35B will involve many difficulties. Therefore, if JMSDF intends to build a genuine aircraft carrier or an LHD in the future, it will certainly make use of the operational data and experience of the F-35B that will be collected from the Izumo class, but it will also be able to utilize the technology and experience that BAE has developed with the Queen Elizabeth-class.