British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday revealed a full-sized model of the sleek new TEMPEST combat aircraft which will be developed over the next 20 years – and be capable of manned and unmanned flight.
The aircraft will eventually replace the existing Eurofighter TYPHOON fighter jet and will be developed and built by BAE Systems, engine maker Rolls-Royce, Italy’s Leonardo and missiles expert MBDA, all joining together in Team Tempest. The defence secretary said the UK would be investing £2 billion in the new project. The hope is to see it flying by 2035.
Mr Williamson said the programme was aimed at ensuring the UK’s continued leadership in fighter technology and control of air space in future combat “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,” he said during the unveilling.
It was hailed a sixth generation fighter aircraft and will compliment the UK’s new F-35s, which are to be used by the RAF and Royal Navy.
Mr Williamson hailed the aircraft as a “glimpse into the future,” which will be, part of the so-called Combat Air Strategy – which will be the future of Britain’s air power.
Team Tempest brings together the UK’s main large industrial players and sovereign capabilities across future combat air’s four key technology areas: advanced combat air systems and integration (BAE Systems); advanced power and propulsion systems (Rolls-Royce); advanced sensors, electronics and avionics (Leonardo) and advanced weapon systems (MBDA).
The large, twin-engined model resembles the Lockheed Martin F-22 and is to incorporate a broad range of technologies, including an adaptable propulsion system and a virtual cockpit to be shown on a helmet-mounted display.