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Japan, Britain and Italy to build joint jet fighter

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

Japan, Britain and Italy are merging their next-generation jet fighter projects in a ground-breaking partnership spanning Europe and Asia that is Japan’s first major industrial defence collaboration beyond the United States since World War Two, Reuters reported.

The deal, which Reuters reported in July, aims to put an advanced front-line fighter into operation by 2035 by combining the British-led Future Combat Air System project, also known as Tempest, with Japan’s F-X programme in a venture called the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), the three countries said in a statement on Friday.

Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and intensifying Chinese military activity around Japan and Taiwan, the agreement may help Japan counter the growing military might of its bigger neighbour and give Britain a bigger security role in a region that is a key driver of global economic growth.

“We are committed to upholding the rules-based, free and open international order, which is more important than ever at a time when these principles are contested, and threats and aggression are increasing,” the three countries said in a joint leaders’ statement.

Amid what it sees as deteriorating regional security, Japan this month will announce a military build up plan that is expected to double defence spending to about 2% of gross domestic product over five years, read the report.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak separately said that his country needed to stay at the cutting edge of defence technology and that the deal would deliver new jobs.

Britain’s BAE Systems PLC (BAES.L), Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) and Italy’s Leonardo (LDOF.MI) will lead design of the aircraft, which will have advanced digital capabilities in AI and cyber warfare, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defence.

European missile maker MBDA will also join the project, along with avionics manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric Corp (6503.T). Rolls-Royce PLC (RROYC.UL), IHI Corp (7013.T) and Avio Aero will work on the engine, the ministry added.

According to Reuters the three countries, however, have yet to work out some details of how the project will proceed, including work shares and where the development will take place.

Britain also want Japan to improve how it provides security clearances to contractors who will work on the aircraft, sources with knowledge of the discussion told Reuters.

Other countries could join the project, Britain said, adding that the fighter, which will replace its Typhoon fighters and complement its F-35 Lightning fleet, will be compatible with fighters flown by other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners.

Confirmation of the plan comes days after companies in France, Germany and Spain secured the next phase of a rival initiative to build a next-generation fighter that could be in operation from 2040, read the report.

The United States, which has pledged to defend all three countries through its membership of NATO and a separate security pact with Japan, also welcomed the joint Europe-Japan agreement.

“The United States supports Japan’s security and defence cooperation with likeminded allies and partners, including with the United Kingdom and Italy,” the US Department of Defense said in a joint statement with Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Japan had initially considered building its next fighter with help from U.S. defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), which had proposed an aircraft that combined the F-22 airframe with the flight systems from the F-35 fighter.

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Japan launches intel satellite to watch N. Korea, disasters

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Japan successfully launched a rocket Thursday carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite on a mission to watch movements at military sites in North Korea and improve natural disaster response.

The H2A rocket, launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, carrying the IGS-Radar 7 reconnaissance satellite as part of Tokyo’s effort to build up its military capability, citing growing threats in the East Asia, The Associated Press reported. 

The satellite later successfully entered its planned orbit, Mitsubishi Heavy said.

The Intelligence Gathering Satellite can capture images on the ground 24 hours a day and even in severe weather conditions. Japan launched the IGS program after a North Korean missile flyover of Japan in 1988 and aims to set up a network of 10 satellites to spot and provide early warning for possible missile launches. The satellites can be also used for disaster monitoring and response.

“The government will maximize the use of IGS-Radar 7 and other reconnaissance satellites to do the utmost for Japan’s national security and crisis management,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement Thursday as he praised the successful launch.

Kishida’s government in December adopted a new national security strategy, including possessing long-range cruise missiles as a “counterstrike” capability that breaks from the country’s exclusively self-defense-only postwar principle, citing rapid weapons advancement in China and North Korea.

Possible counterstrikes that aim to preempt enemy attacks would require significant advancement in intelligence gathering and cybersecurity capability, as well as significant assistance from Japan’s ally, the United States, experts say.

The Mitsubishi Heavy-operated, liquid-fuel H2A rocket has recorded 40 consecutive successes since a failure in 2003.

Mitsubishi Heavy and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are co-developing their new flagship H3 rocket as the successor to the H2A, which is set to retire in 2024. The first launch of H3 is set for February.

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Asteroid coming exceedingly close to Earth, but will miss us

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2023)

An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will whip past Earth on Thursday night, one of the closest such encounters ever recorded.

NASA insists it will be a near miss with no chance of the asteroid hitting Earth, The Associated Press reported.

NASA said Wednesday that this newly discovered asteroid will zoom 3,600 kilometers above the southern tip of South America. That’s 10 times closer than the bevy of communication satellites circling overhead.

The closest approach will occur at 7:27 p.m. EST (3:34 p.m Kabul time).

Even if the space rock came a lot closer, scientists said most of it would burn up in the atmosphere, with some of the bigger pieces possibly falling as meteorites.

NASA’s impact hazard assessment system, called Scout, quickly ruled out a strike, said its developer, Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“But despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth,” Farnocchia said in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”

Discovered Saturday, the asteroid known as 2023 BU is believed to be between 3.5 meters and 8.5 meters) across. It was first spotted by the same amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered an interstellar comet in 2019. Within a few days, dozens of observations were made by astronomers around the world, allowing them to refine the asteroid’s orbit.

The asteroid’s path drastically will be altered by Earth’s gravity once it zips by. Instead of circling the sun every 359 days, it will move into an oval orbit lasting 425 days, according to NASA.

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Microsoft Teams and Outlook down for thousands

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Thousands of users are struggling to access vital Microsoft services including Outlook and Teams.

Outages have been reported on Downdetector, a website that tracks when other sites aren’t working properly.

Outlook, the email service popular with both individuals and businesses, has gone down, while Teams, the messaging service that’s widely-used in companies, also appears out for several thousand users.

Microsoft is looking into the outage. The Microsoft 365 Twitter account said in a series of tweets: “We’re investigating issues impacting multiple Microsoft 365 services.

“We’ve identified a potential networking issue and are reviewing telemetry to determine the next troubleshooting steps.

“We’ve isolated the problem to networking configuration issues, and we’re analyzing the best mitigation strategy to address these without causing additional impact.”

It added: “We’ve rolled back a network change that we believe is causing impact. We’re monitoring the service as the rollback takes effect.”

Teams is used by more than 280 million people and has only become more prominent since Covid lockdowns confined workers to their homes, while Outlook has previously reported 400 million users.

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