A selection of the UK’s leading aerospace and defence companies have joined forces to develop the next generation of high-tech combat aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
Seven companies, including GKN, Bombardier Belfast and Thales UK have joined the ‘Team Tempest’ project to work alongside core partners BAE Systems, MBDA, Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and the Ministry of Defence. Their aim is to work together to develop cutting-edge technological innovation in combat aviation to secure the UK’s leading position.
The project was first announced in 2018. Upon completion, the Tempest aircraft is set to join the RAF fleet from 2035. It will replace the currently in operation Eurofighter Typhoon, which first flew in 1994 and entered service in 2003.
The Tempest will introduce and utilise emerging technologies to make the aircraft the most sophisticated in the world, including a customisable virtual cockpit and directed energy weapons.
In December 2019, partner Leonardo unveiled new radar sensing technology which was four times as accurate as existing sensors and only one-tenth of the size. Rolls Royce has been working on pioneering electrical technology that will contribute to the programme since the aircraft will require unprecedented levels of electrical power demand for its combat systems and propulsion.
Jeremy Quin, the UK Minister for Defence Procurement, said:
“[The] announcement demonstrates further progress in delivering the UK’s combat air strategy, with more companies collaborating on the future of the UK’s Air Defence. This is a highly innovative project based around cutting-edge technology and drawing on a skills base where the UK excels. I am delighted that the success and strengths of Team Tempest are being enhanced through drawing on UK expertise; working with industrial partners and highly capable international team we are configured for future success.”
The consortium is also looking to develop the unmanned Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) to be deployed alongside the Tempest.