BAE Systems has been awarded a contract extension worth £656 million to progress the next generation combat aircraft, Tempest.
The new funding will build on the ground-breaking science, research and engineering already completed under the first phase of the contract delivered by the aerospace and defence giant in partnership with Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce.
The UK Tempest team, working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, will take forward more than 60 cutting-edge technology demonstrations and digital concepts, described as critical to the UK’s sovereign defence capability. They will help shape the final requirements – together with the Global Combat Air Programme partners in Japan and Italy – for the combat air platform, due to enter service with the Royal Air Force by 2035.
Read more: Tempest to win the war of information over the battlefield as next-gen air combat ability outlined
Herman Claesen, managing director for Future Combat Air Systems within BAE Systems’ Air Sector, said: “This contract reflects the continued commitment by the UK Government and ensures we continue to mature this significant programme and the vital technology pipeline that will drive innovation into – and beyond – the combat air sector for decades to come.
“This important work is at the core of the newly created Global Combat Air Programme; a major international partnership and ambitious endeavour between the UK, Japan and Italy with the shared goal to deliver the next generation of combat air fighter jets.”
The aircraft is designed to be an innovative stealth fighter with supersonic capability and equipped with cutting-edge technologies, including state-of-the-art sensing and protection capabilities. This will make the aircraft one of the world’s most advanced, interoperable, adaptable and connected fighter jets in service, delivering battle-winning next generation weapons to protect the UK and its allies.
Brough in East Yorkshire, and Wharton in Lancashire, are key locations for the BAE development work, with Rolls-Royce in Derby and Filton.
Further Tempest visualisations provided by BAE Systems. (Image: BAE Systems) At the former, the FTSE-listed company has just signed a new 10-year lease on the 500,000 sq ft of office, warehouse and research and development space it occupies at Humber Enterprise Park.
It focuses on design, test and evaluation, uniting new and novel digital engineering technologies such as synthetic modelling and model-based systems engineering. Many of the expanding team work on design, mission systems, integration and software disciplines.
At Wharton, BAE has developed a factory of the future, with robotics being advanced while the wearable cockpit is being developed alongside psycho-physiological modelling, with EEG and brainwave analysis helping inform where the balance can be struck between pilot and autonomous control.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The next tranche of funding for future combat air will help fuse the combined technologies and expertise we have with our international partners – both in Europe and the Pacific – to deliver this world-leading fighter jet by 2035, protecting our skies for decades to come.”
Richard Berthon, the MOD’s director of future combat air, added: “Today, as planned, the UK MOD is releasing the next tranche of funding for future combat air. This shows that the UK is committed to working with international partners to deliver a next-generation fighter jet for 2035.
“We are facing a growing threat from our adversaries, who are investing in combat air and air defences of their own. By investing in GCAP, we will stay ahead of these intensifying and proliferating threats, and provide a highly credible deterrent capability for decades to come.”
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