According to a press release by BAE Systems, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded a contract worth approximately £250m (U.S. $199 million) to progress the design and development of Tempest, the UK’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The contract, signed by BAE Systems, officially marks the start of the programme’s concept and assessment phase.
Continued funding of Tempest underlines the UK Government’s confidence in the progress and maturity of the programme, which is set to deliver the military, industrial and economic requirements of the national combat air strategy.
The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest – combining the expertise of the UK MOD, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce. Working with international partners, the team is leading progress towards a UK-led internationally collaborative Future Combat Air System which will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies retain world-leading, independent military capability.
The concept and assessment phase contract will see the partners develop a range of digital concepts, embedding new tools and techniques to design, evaluate and shape the final design and capability requirements of Tempest.
"Today marks a momentous step in the next phase of our Future Combat Air System, with a multi-million pound investment that draws on the knowledge and skills of our UK industry experts. Boosting our already world-leading air industry, the contract will sustain thousands of jobs across the UK and will ensure that the UK remains at the top table when it comes to combat air," Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence, said announcing the contract during a visit to BAE Systems’ Warton site in Lancashire.
"Working with our industry partners and the Ministry of Defence, we are on track to deliver an ambitious programme for the UK, which will provide a highly advanced and sophisticated air defence capability, capable of countering future threats and safeguarding our national security and defence. The funding announced today marks a critical next step for the programme and, with our partners, we will work together to define the technical and capability requirements and develop the concept which will bring Tempest to life. Tempest offers an exciting opportunity for the next generation of talent to develop rewarding careers, contributing to important work in support of the defence of our nation. The coming years represent one of the most exciting periods in the history of our industry and, as a team, we have a chance to be part of something genuinely historic, transforming the way we develop and deliver," Chris Boardman, Group Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Air Sector said.
Tempest will pioneer cutting-edge technologies, including those assisted by Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and autonomous systems to meet the capability requirements of future conflicts and be operational in the mid-2030s.
The design and production of Tempest demands a radically different approach and the Team Tempest partners are working with companies in their supply chain to drive digital transformation, embedding a digital enterprise through the ecosystem; embracing an agile approach that will deliver a combination of advanced technologies, efficiency, speed of production and lower costs.
Recent research conducted by PwC underlines how the Tempest programme is expected to deliver significant and wide ranging benefits to all regions of the UK, stimulating vital investment, productivity, skills and innovation. The programme will make an estimated £26.2bn contribution to the UK economy, create high productivity employment - 78% higher than the UK national average – and will support an average of 21,000 jobs a year.
The programme is able to stimulate R&D in regions most in need and generate wider economic benefits for these areas, with 70% of the programme’s value to be generated in the North West, South West and East of England. This means the Tempest programme is well placed to support the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery and prosperity in the decades ahead.