US Australia and Japan unite to develop next-generation military drones

According to Nikkei Asia on October 26, 2023, the United States and Australia announced their intent to collaborate with Japan in the development of next-generation military drones, with a particular focus on a collaborative combat aircraft. US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made this joint announcement following their White House meeting, underlining the importance of exploring trilateral cooperation with Japan in the domain of unmanned aerial systems.

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US Japan Australia 925 001  The United States and Australia have announced their intent to collaborate with Japan in the development of next-generation military drones (Image generated via DALL-E)

The leaders expressed that their collaboration aims to enhance interoperability and expedite technology transfer within the rapidly evolving field of collaborative combat aircraft and autonomy. This vision aligns with the concept of "collaborative combat aircraft" introduced by the US Air Force, which envisions the operation of unmanned aircraft autonomously or alongside piloted aircraft. According to a Japanese official, Japan's expertise in artificial intelligence and robotics positions it to significantly contribute to advancing such capabilities.

The decision to collaborate on unmanned aerial vehicles underscores the growing role of drones in modern warfare. Recent conflicts, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus, have highlighted the effectiveness of drones supplied by various countries, including Türkiye and Israel, in achieving strategic advantages. Similarly, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has seen both sides utilizing drones to inflict damage on their adversaries while minimizing risks to their own forces.

The United States and Japan have already embarked on cooperation in the unmanned platform domain. In December, they issued a joint statement outlining their intention to conduct joint research, development, testing, and evaluation of autonomous systems capabilities. These autonomous drones could complement Japan's forthcoming fighter jet, developed in partnership with the United Kingdom and Italy, under the GCAP initiative.