Home England government UK bolsters combat air program with ready-to-fly demonstrator within five years

UK bolsters combat air program with ready-to-fly demonstrator within five years

  • The UK is developing next-generation demonstration combat aircraft under the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme.
  • The project involves the Department of Defense and industry partners of Team Tempest, led by BAE Systems.
  • Comes as the UK deepens its collaboration with Japan and Italy as it builds an international combat air partnership.
  • FCAS Enterprise launches its ‘Generation Tempest’ initiative creating early career employment opportunities across the UK and a new Tempest Academy.

A new flying demonstrator will be unveiled within the next five years as part of the UK’s major next-generation fighter aircraft programme, the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). It comes as the future combat air program launches a new recruitment and skills initiative known as Generation Tempest, which is expected to create thousands of new job opportunities across the UK.

The demonstration aircraft is already under development between the government and industrial partners of Team Tempest and the UK is actively progressing collaboration opportunities on the project with Italian industrial partners.

The flying demonstrator will be a manned supersonic aircraft testing a range of new technologies, including the integration of stealth-enabled features. It is the first time the UK will develop a fast new aircraft using 21st century technology.

Work is rapidly accelerating on this important part of the FCAS program, with demonstrator development underway at BAE Systems’ facilities near Preston in the north of England. This is backed by hundreds of companies and thousands of engineers across the UK.

The demonstrator is essential to ensure that our technology, our skills and our industrial capacity are ready for the future. The design and construction of the flying demonstrator will prove integration and testing skills. It will also provide invaluable data and lessons to UK industry to support the introduction of new FCAS aircraft from 2035.

Separately, the UK is currently conducting a Joint Concept Analysis with close partners Japan and Italy to understand areas of common interest and explore potential Future Combat Air partnership options and continues to explore partnerships wider. Further decisions are expected to be made by the end of 2022. As the UK, Japan and Italy operate F-35 fighter jets and the nations have undertaken joint exercises in the past.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said:

I am delighted that the UK, alongside Italy, Japan and Sweden are working together on the same combat air travel.

Our work with Japan and Italy on breakthrough technologies like this shows the advantage of our alliances around the world.

The design and development of the demonstration aircraft represents a significant milestone, showcasing the success and talent of our engineers, programmers and software developers. This program will continue to attract opportunities for many more great minds and talents from across the UK.

To support the program, a series of measures to attract the brightest minds to FCAS were announced, including plans for a new Tempest Academy, joint talent recruitment and development between partners, and the launch of a new careers website. It is hoped that this initiative will create a “Storm Generation” who will bring their own unique ideas and experiences to the program.

The FCAS program plays an important role in supporting the government’s upgrading ambitions, employing around 2,500 highly skilled people across the UK, including in industrial centers of the combat air sector in northern Scotland. -west and south-west England. The program now employs 1,000 apprentices and graduates, offering exciting job opportunities in STEM subjects such as industrial digitization, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Team Tempest partners BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA UK aim to hire an additional 1,300 young starters by the end of 2023.

UK Future Combat Air Director Richard Berthon said:

FCAS is an exciting, dynamic and inclusive program, requiring a diversity of people, ideas and skills working together. We are recruiting new talent to lead FCAS, implementing one of the most important defense programs in the world.

The FCAS program is driving state-of-the-art developments and there have been a range of advancements in UK industry supporting the programme, some of which are being showcased at the Farnborough Airshow this week, including:

  • Rolls-Royce Defense has delivered a new gas turbine demonstration engine, known as Orpheus, designed, built and tested in less than two years to prove innovative technological developments for FCAS. Together with international partners, Rolls Royce has also agreed on the next stage of the full-scale engine demonstrator programme.
  • BAE Systems used digital transformation to design and build a representative military fast jet airframe, demonstrating how innovative technologies can transform Tempest’s design and manufacturing capability. Commercial robots were adapted and used, and 65% of parts were guided to location through automation.
  • Leonardo UK and Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric have agreed on the concept of a radar technology demonstrator called JAGUAR, first unveiled in February, following the completion of joint design work and feasibility studies earlier this year.
  • Leonardo also revealed the ongoing bilateral work to support the future on-board electronics of the SCAF program. Leonardo in the UK and Italy are working together on a number of projects with Elettronica in Italy, including the joint assessment of the potential architecture of a common Integrated Detection and Non-Kinetic Effects (ISANKE) system and integrated communications. This work complements the ongoing collaboration with Japan on the capabilities of 6th generation sensors, an area in which Italy will soon be involved.
  • MBDA unveiled its Weapon Effects Management System concept, to help coordinate all available weapons in the battlespace using enhanced artificial intelligence and machine learning software.