Timeline for Tempest fighter jet flying demonstrator revealed

The UK government has confirmed plans for the development of a new flying combat air demonstrator for the Tempest fighter jet.

The Tempest will play a critical role in proving the technology and design principles needed to deliver the UK’s Future Combat Air System.

Work is being led by BAE Systems, working with the Ministry of Defence and a number of suppliers across the UK. This project will deliver the first flying combat air demonstrator in a generation – designed and developed in the UK.

The demonstrator, which will be a piloted supersonic jet, will fly within the next five years.

The flagship project is part of a suite of novel technologies being developed by Team Tempest. These concepts are designed to demonstrate and test the next generation combat air skills, tools, processes and techniques needed to ensure Tempest, the UK’s Future Combat Air System, achieves in service in 2035.

Team Tempest comprises the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and MBDA UK. Launched in 2018, alongside the UK’s Combat Air Strategy, Tempest will play a crucial role in providing long-term defence and security for the UK, while delivering significant economic benefits to the nation, securing high-value skills and careers and contributing to prosperity in many UK regions.

Engineers at BAE Systems across the North of England are leading the design, test, evaluation and build process, bringing together new and novel digital engineering technologies such as synthetic modelling and model-based systems engineering. These innovative design and engineering methods are helping to demonstrate how they will significantly reduce the time it takes to design, deliver and upgrade complex combat aircraft.

Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems chief executive, said: “We recognise our responsibility in providing trusted sovereign combat air capability. We’re partnering with the UK’s highly motivated and skilled supply chain to accelerate the innovation of the nation’s future air power; integrating new technologies so the Royal Air Force and its allies can stay ahead of our adversaries.

“The demonstrator is an exciting once-in-a-generation opportunity providing experienced and young engineers alike a chance to contribute to an endeavour which really matters to our national defence and security.”

The demonstrator will provide evidence for the critical technologies, methods and tools, which will be used on the core platform. As part of the broader activity involved in developing Tempest, the demonstrator programme is also helping retain, further develop and stimulate the next generation of skills and expertise required to deliver this ambitious programme.

There have been a series of advances across UK industry supporting the programme, some of which are being showcased at Farnborough Airshow, including:

  • Rolls-Royce Defence has delivered a new gas turbine demonstrator engine, known as Orpheus, designed, built and tested in under two years to prove innovative technology developments for FCAS. Working with international partners, Rolls Royce have also agreed the next stage of the full-scale engine demonstrator programme.
  • BAE Systems has used digital transformation to design and build a representative military fast jet fuselage, demonstrating how innovative technologies can transform the design and manufacturing capability for Tempest. Commercial robots were adapted and utilised, and 65% of the parts were guided into location using automation.
  • Leonardo UK and Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric have agreed the concept for a radar technology demonstrator called JAGUAR, first unveiled in February, following the completion of joint concept work and feasibility studies earlier this year.
  • Leonardo has also revealed ongoing bilateral work to support the future electronics on-board the FCAS programme. Leonardo in the UK and in Italy are working together on a number of projects with Elettronica in Italy including joint assessment of potential architecture of a common Integrated Sensing and Non-Kinetic Effects (ISANKE) and Integrated Communications System. The work is complementary to ongoing collaboration with Japan on 6th generation sensor capabilities, an area in which Italy will soon be involved.
  • MBDA unveiled its concept for a weapon effects management system, to aid the coordination of all available weapons in the battle space using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning enhanced software.

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BAE Systems

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