Design concept of Tempest fighter jet, courtesy of BAE Systems

Ministry of Defence invests £250m to advance Tempest combat aircraft project

Image credit: BAE Systems

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract worth approximately £250m to progress the design and development of Tempest, the UK’s future combat air system.

The contract, signed by aerospace company and core partner BAE Systems, officially marks the start of the programme’s concept and assessment phase. 

According to its developers, continued funding of Tempest underlines the government’s confidence in the progress and maturity of the programme, which will deliver the military, industrial and economic requirements of the nation’s combat air strategy.

“Today marks a momentous step in the next phase of our future combat air system (FCAS), with a multi-million-pound investment that draws on the knowledge and skills of our UK industry experts,” said Ben Wallace, the UK’s secretary of state for defence. “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 in combat air.” 

The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest which will combine the expertise of the MoD, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, and Rolls-Royce. The team hopes to progress towards a UK-led internationally collaborative FCAS which will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies “keep 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, a spokesperson on the project has said.

“Working with our industry partners and the MoD, 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,” said Chris Boardman, group managing director of BAE Systems’ Air Sector.

He added: “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 to support 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 are part of something genuinely historic, transforming the way we develop and deliver.”

Tempest is one of several sixth-generation fighter jets being developed around the world. In a multi-billion-pound project, a stealth airframe will incorporate a host of intertwined open-architecture technology, built to adapt to changing threats.

The military aircraft is due to enter service around the mid-2030s.

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