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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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Russia aborts planned test launch of new heavy-lift space rocket

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(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)

Russian space officials on Tuesday aborted the test launch of a new heavy-lift rocket from its far-eastern launch pad.

The Angara-A5 rocket was scheduled to lift off from the Vostochny space launch facility at 0900 GMT Tuesday, but the launch was aborted two minutes before, AP reported.

Yuri Borisov, head of Roscosmos state space corporation, said the automatic safety system canceled the launch after registering a flaw in the oxidizer tank pressurization system.

He said the next launch attempt was set for Wednesday.

Tuesday’s launch was to be the fourth for the Angara-A5, a heavy-lift version of the new Angara family of rockets that has been developed to replace the Soviet-designed Proton rockets.

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China, Thailand sign pacts on outer space, lunar outposts

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(Last Updated On: April 5, 2024)

China and Thailand signed initial pacts on Friday to cooperate on peaceful use of outer space and international lunar research stations, the Chinese space agency said.

The countries aim to form a joint working group on space exploration and applications, encompassing data exchanges and personnel training, according to the memorandums of understanding.

They also agreed to cooperate on plans for appraising, engineering and managing lunar research stations, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement.

In 2023, China selected a space weather monitor developed by Thailand for its Chang’e-7 lunar probe mission, the agency added.

To be launched around 2026, the Chang’e-7 mission will explore resources on the moon’s south pole, looking to sustain long-term human habitation. China aims to land astronauts on the moon by 2030.

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UN adopts first global artificial intelligence resolution

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(Last Updated On: March 22, 2024)

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted the first global resolution on artificial intelligence that encourages countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor AI for risks, Reuters reported.

The nonbinding resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by China and over 120 other nations, also advocates the strengthening of privacy policies.

“Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The resolution is the latest in a series of initiatives – few of which carry teeth – by governments around the world to shape AI’s development, amid fears it could be used to disrupt democratic processes, turbocharge fraud or lead to dramatic job losses, among other harms.

“The improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems … pose risks that could … undercut the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the measure says. In November, the U.S., Britain and more than a dozen other countries unveiled the first detailed international agreement on how to keep artificial intelligence safe from rogue actors, pushing for companies to create AI systems that are “secure by design.”

Europe is ahead of the United States, with EU lawmakers adopting a provisional agreement this month to oversee the technology. The Biden administration has been pressing lawmakers for AI regulation, but a polarized U.S. Congress has made little headway, read the report.

In the meantime, the White House sought to reduce AI risks to consumers, workers, and minorities while bolstering national security with a new executive order in October.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said it took nearly four months to negotiate the resolution, but that it gave the world “a baseline set of principles to guide next steps in AI’s development and use.”

Asked on Wednesday whether negotiators faced resistance from Russia or China, senior administration officials said there were “lots of heated conversations,” but the administration actively engaged with countries with which it has different views.

Like governments around the world, Chinese and Russian officials are eagerly exploring the use of AI tools for a variety of purposes. Last month, Microsoft said it had caught hackers from both countries using Microsoft-backed OpenAI software to hone their espionage skills.

In response to the Microsoft report, China has said it opposes what it called groundless accusations while Russia did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

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