LONDON – A raft of top system suppliers has been recruited to join the UK’s leading team in the development of the Tempest generation fighter.
Bombardier in Northern Ireland, GKN, Martin Baker, and Qinetiq, together with the British arm of Aerospace Collins, GE Aviation and Thales, have signed up to collaborate with a team led by BAE Systems working on air combat systems in the future, announced July 20 what was supposed to be the opening day of the Farnborough air show before Covid-19 led to the cancellation of the event.
At the same time as the announcement, Saab Sweden revealed that they were building a British hub to potentially participate in the work of future air combat systems between the two countries.
It’s been almost two years when wraps were taken from the Tempest fighter plastic mock-up at the Farnborough event.
Britain revealed the partnership led by BAE, also involved Leonardo, MBDA, Rolls-Royce, who would begin to investigate the technology needed for future air combat systems.
About $ 2.5 billion so far has committed to this program.
Now, just a few months before the outline business case to develop further programs will be sent to the British government, the Tempest Team, as the industry team is known, has signed its first seven system suppliers.
With the first phase of the new partnership being signed, the company will look for opportunities to join established projects and developments with the Tempest Team’s core partners.
More than 60 technology demonstration activities are currently underway on a future combat air system in the UK that employs 1800 people – the number is expected to increase to 2,500 by the end of this year.
In a statement, Defense Minister Ben Wallace said he was “pleased that seven companies had joined this mission to work with the Ministry of Defense, under the banner of the Tempest Team. They will bring ambition, discovery and expertise that will produce breakthroughs that we will rely on for decades to come. “
The increased level of employment and increased industrial support comes at an important time for a program that will determine the future position of the UK in the defense industry, given the importance of the air sector to jobs, skills and exports here.
An integrated defense, security and foreign policy review is underway led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his advisers, who are said to be skeptical of the ability of local industries to deliver large programs on time and on budget and prefer to buy defense equipment off the shelf.
With Covid-19 emptying the government’s coffers, launching a multibillion-dollar program like Tempest is likely to be a problem unless the UK can register several major international partners to share costs.
Last year Italy and Sweden both signed up to investigate a partnership with Britain on a future combat air system, and studies are underway with the two countries not yet committed to the program.
Sweden may not have committed to partnering with Britain and others, but its biggest defense company, Saab, announced on July 20 that it would invest $ 63 million in start-up to build a new future air combat center with other initiatives in the UK.
Saab leads the participation of the Swedish combat air system industry in the future in collaboration with the ministry of defense.
Details of where and when companies will invest in the UK are rare, but Micael Johansson, Saab’s president and CEO, said the move demonstrates the company’s commitment to combat air and British development.
“Saab took the decision to create a new center of the air combat system in the future so that we can further develop close working relationships with other FCAS industry partners and the UK Ministry of Defense. This emphasizes the importance of FCAS and the UK for Saab’s future, “Johansson said.
The British have set their nets outside Europe in search of partners, with India and Japan also holding discussions about potential ties to the future combat air system.
Across the English, French and German channels jointly developed a new fighter jet with the same time frame.
Attempts to merge the two European programs so far have failed, but that does not mean that the post-Covid-19 financial realities may not lead to a potential bond for review.
Howard Wheeldon, from the Wheeldon Strategic Advisory consultant, said that the British government knew what was at stake in the development of future air combat systems.
“Team Tempest is a very significant program for the UK. … Partnerships between government, military, industry and international partners are all determined to succeed, “he said.
“The industry, together with the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office, has reached large numbers in a very short time. “I, for example, have no doubt that the government fully understands the importance of the meaning of ‘Team Tempest’ for the UK, not only for employment and maintaining the necessary skills, but also in the potential that development has prosperity in the future,” Wheeldon said.