Posted on July 17, 2018 · Posted in Aviation News
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Tempest is expected to complement the F-35 and eventually replace Typhoon. It is expected to enter service in 2035.

Specifications include:

  • Ability to fly unmanned
  • Use swarming technology to control drones
  • Artificial intelligence deep learning
  • Possess directed energy weapons
  • Cooperative Engagement Capability, the ability to cooperate on the battlefield, sharing sensor data and messages to coordinate attack or defense
  • Adaptive cycle engine
  • Virtual cockpit shown on a pilot’s helmet-mounted display
  • “Affordable”

It is understood that £2 billion in initial funding will be set out to oversee the design and build of the aircraft. The project is a joint venture between BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, MBDA UK Ltd and Leonardo.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said as he also launched the UK’s new Combat Air Strategy:

“We have been a world leader in the combat air sector for a century, with an enviable array of skills and technology, and this Strategy makes clear that we are determined to make sure it stays that way. It shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future – and this concept model is just a glimpse into what the future could look like.

British defence industry is a huge contributor to UK prosperity, creating thousands of jobs in a thriving advanced manufacturing sector, and generating a UK sovereign capability that is the best in the world.

Today’s news leaves industry, our military, the country, and our allies in no doubt that the UK will be flying high in the combat air sector as we move into the next generation.”

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The aircraft will no doubt put many of you in mind of Replica, a design study for an envisioned military aircraft with stealth capabilities, developed by BAE Systems. It was ultimately not pursued after the 90’s as the British government chose to proceed with involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter program instead, which ultimately led to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Experience and data acquired through the programme was later rolled into the Joint Strike Fighter.

According to reports, the Replica project is known to have been worked on from 1994 to 1999. It was also widely believed that Replica could have been intended to inform work on new generation aircraft and that looks to have been somewhat accurate, even based on how similar the design looks to Tempest.

The concept aircraft has been put together by British firms including BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, which have joined together with the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office to form ‘Team Tempest’ to pursue the opportunity.

Team Tempest brings together the UK’s world leading industry and sovereign capabilities across future combat air’s four key technology areas:

  1. Advanced combat air systems and integration (BAE Systems)
  2. Advanced power and propulsion systems (Rolls-Royce)
  3. Advanced sensors, electronics and avionics (Leonardo)
  4. Advanced weapon systems (MBDA)

Early decisions around how to acquire the capability will be confirmed by the end of 2020, before final investment decisions are made by 2025. The aim is then for a next generation platform to have operational capability by 2035.

The UK government says that F-35 Lightning II and the Typhoon are two complementary multi-role combat aircraft that will make up the RAF’s combat air fleet, “placing the UK at the forefront of combat air technology” – with the Typhoon expected to remain in UK service until at least 2040.

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