The Future Combat Air System, ‘Tempest’, plans to combine a core aircraft with a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft and advanced data systems. Planned to enter service from the mid-2030s, the project is set to receive over £2bn worth of government spending over the next four years and is supported by the £24bn increase in defence spending announced by the prime minister last year.
This latest £250m contract will see investment in the digital and physical infrastructure on which the programme will be developed, aiming for reduced cost, time and emissions through a ‘digital first’ simulated design and testing process.
Now officially underway, the concept and assessment phase aims to define and begin to design the future combat air system, mature technologies, invest in the skilled workforce, secure tools to underpin digital engineering and software-based systems and enable major programme choices by 2024.
“Developing the system allows us to drive a revolution in digital development and harness the power of open systems architecture,” said UK director of Future Combat Air, Richard Berthon. “We are looking forward to working together with UK industry and international partners to create and deliver a system which will keep us safe for decades to come.”
Defence secretary Ben Wallace made the announcement at BAE Systems’ site in Warton. BAE Systems is one of the four founding members of ‘Team Tempest’ alongside Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and MBDA UK.
Last year, the UK, Italy and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the project. Additionally, the defence secretary and Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi last week agreed to accelerate discussions between the UK and Japan on developing sub-systems for a Future Combat Air System, including working together on power and propulsion.
Research conducted by professional services company PwC on behalf of Team Tempest suggested that the work of the team and its supply chains in support of UK combat air activities could support around 62,000 jobs per year and contribute around £100bn to the UK economy between 2021 and 2050.