New Tempest jets could replace RAF's Typhoon fleet

Elias Hubbard
July 19, 2018

The aircraft, meant to eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, will be developed and built by BAE Systems Plc, Britain's biggest defence company, alongside United Kingdom engine-maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, Italian defence firm Leonardo, and European missile maker MBDA.

The Tempest was unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow by defence secretary Gavin Williamson as the first day got underway.

The UK-led project comes as Britain is due to leave the European Union in less than nine months.

Leonardo Chief Executive Alessandro Profumo also voiced hope that Europe would unite around one programme.

Billed as a replacement for the Eurofighter Typhoon the Tempest is expected to enter service in 2035.

Mr Williamson said: "Building on our proud history and to ensure we secure world-leading capability, I am launching a new capability acquisition programme to replace Typhoon when it leaves Royal Air Force service - an exciting first step into a second century of United Kingdom combat air capability".

It will face competition from a rival European project after France announced in June that it would take a leading role on a new fighter program, saying it would start as a bilateral effort with Germany that could be expanded later.

Britain wants to find an global partner to help develop the jet, and Williamson appealed to a crowd packed with visiting military chiefs who were present to see the model.

The fighter jet is under development by "Team Tempest", a joint operation between the aerospace companies and the Royal Air Force's Rapid Capability Office under the Future Combat Air Strategy Technology Initiative.

Asked if the United Kingdom can afford the jets, Mr Williamson replied: "If the RAF is to have the capability to keep Britain safe and make sure we can defeat our adversaries at home and overseas, we need to be making this investment in a fighter jet". Now, the United Kingdom is gambling that it can take the expertise gained from the Typhoon and Britain's partnership in the F-35 program to create a new fighter project that will entice global partners and customers.

"We have a number of export campaigns in play and [.] I think the outlook for Typhoon export orders is as good now as it's been for quite some time, both in our very important Middle East customers but also within Europe", he told BBC Radio.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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