Global Combat Air Program (GCAP): Advanced electronics partners zero in on joint project delivery set-up

At the DSEI exhibition in London, three prominent champions of defense electronics from the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan have revealed their intent to establish a joint project delivery framework for GCAP’s ISANKE & ICS domain (Integrated Sensing and Non-Kinetic Effects & Integrated Communications Systems).

The entities involved in this strategic collaboration include Leonardo UK, representing the UK; Mitsubishi Electric, representing Japan; and both Leonardo and ELT Group, representing Italy. Together, they are evaluating various operational and commercial models to determine the most efficient and effective approach for swiftly delivering the program while ensuring flexibility for all three nations.

This significant development follows the announcement of a collaboration agreement for the ISANKE & ICS domain back in March, marking a significant step toward establishing a permanent industrial construct. Recognizing the need for new ways of working to meet GCAP’s 2035 target, the partners have engaged in intensive discussions to reevaluate legacy program structures, infrastructure, and performance metrics.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to pioneer a transformative model of international business and technical cooperation that can facilitate rapid progress.

ISANKE & ICS represents advanced electronics integrated into GCAP combat aircraft, providing aircrews with mission-critical information and advanced self-protection capabilities. It is a core element of the new GCAP combat aircraft, transitioning from the traditional model of separate airborne sensors to offering fully integrated sensing, fusion, and self-protection capabilities. Simultaneously, the integrated communications system enables ISANKE to operate as a network across formations of crewed and uncrewed aircraft, contributing to each nation’s broader multi-domain system-of-systems.

In addition to commercial discussions, the domain partners have achieved significant technical progress in recent months. The ISANKE & ICS subsystem successfully passed a three-nation systems review, underscoring its high-level design, system placement within the aircraft, and intended functions. This milestone enhances the direction of research and development work, supporting the planned introduction of the new combat aircraft in 2035.

Furthermore, all partners have made substantial advancements in critical underlying technologies, including radar, electro-optics, and electronic warfare. This collaboration has also laid the groundwork for aligning digital transformation efforts as they prepare for more intensive cross-border joint engineering in a secure environment.

The ISANKE & ICS domain partners represent some of the most skilled and advanced engineering talent in their respective countries. Together, they aspire to inspire and train the next generation of engineers and business leaders, equipping them to meet the evolving requirements of the defence sensing and communications domain for the next half-century and beyond.

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