The Tempest Fighter Jet: Royal Air Force New Airborne Weapon System

The Tempest Fighter Jet Mockup

A spectacular full-size mockup of the Tempest fighter jet – which designers believe has the potential to be as iconic as legendary World War 2 plane the Spitfire.

The aim is to deploy Tempest, which will be equipped with laser and hypersonic weapons and will be accompanied into battle by a team of semi-autonomous “wingmen” similar to drones by the 2030s. The UK-led project as seen BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, MDBA UK and the British arm of Italy’s Leonardo team up with Swedish company Saab to form Team Tempest, whereby they will work together to develop and deliver the futuristic-looking aircraft.

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“Saab from Sweden has recently joined the Tempest Club, bringing design and integration skills from their Gripen fighter stable.

A spokesman for Rolls Royce added: “Rolls-Royce forms part of Team Tempest and is working collaboratively with the UK Government, the RAF and our industry partners, BAE Systems, Leonardo and MBDA, to take a leading role in the next generation of combat air power.

“Our role in the programme involves the development of cutting-edge technologies to meet global power needs. Our advanced power and propulsion systems means we will play a major part in the next-generation fighter aircraft strategy to ensure Team Tempest leads the world in the combat air sector.

“While the gas turbine remains at the forefront of Rolls-Royce’s contribution, our focus is on developing new capabilities as part of a wider power and propulsion system.

The concept, which was originally revealed at the Farnborough Air Show last year, aims to bring together cutting edge technologies including a flexible weapon carriage, an adaptable airframe, long-range sensing, advanced materials, hypersonic weapons, laser directed-energy weapons, cyber protection and a ‘fused’ cockpit.

He added: “This will allow pilots to task unmanned vehicles (UAVs) to attack specific targets without endangering the crew.

A STATE-of-the-art sixth generation fighter jet being developed by Britain in conjunction with Sweden, which will be equipped with laser weaponry and fleets of semi-autonomous “wingmen” similar to drones, will be “more than just an aircraft”, a defence analyst has said.

And visitors to the show, at ExCel London, got a vision of the future in the shape of the impressive walkthrough replica, which proved enormously popular, particularly with youngsters.

“It’s quite possible the first Tempest pilot could be here today and we want to fire the imaginations of everyone who sees it.

Tempest features
BAE Systems’ graphic shows the Tempest’s multiple features (Image: BAE Systems).

“We’ve got a virtual cockpit which people can see into and this gives a real glimpse of the future.”

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The completed aircraft would be “like nothing currently in the air today”, Ms Thompson said, and would send a clear signal about British technological innovation as the 21st century progressed.

Tempest
An artist’s impression of the Tempest on the runway (Image: BAE Systems)

“This has the potential to be a revolutionary aircraft, a real game-changer.”

Tempest
The plan is to deploy the Tempest by the mid-2030s (Image: Leonardo)

Spitfire
Developers hope the Tempest can be as iconic as the Spitfire.

The concept, first showcased at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show, will bring together state-of-the-art technologies including a flexible weapons carriage, an adaptable airframe, long-range sensing, advanced materials, hypersonic weapons, laser-directed energy weapons, cyber protection and a “fused” cockpit.

One of its most exciting features will be the “wingmen”, which will accompany it into battle, and which would be able to peel off and carry out semi-independent missions of their own.

Mr Kennedy added: “The excitement lies at being at the forefront of building a next-generation fighter jet for the first time since the Typhoon in the 1980s.

Tempest
A timetabe for the Tempest’s development (Image: BAE Systems)

“It’s about flexibility – one of the criticisms of the previous generation of fighter planes was that they were not flexible enough.”

John Sneller, head of aviation at Jane’s by IHS Markit, added: “When operational, the hyper-advanced Tempest will boast capabilities far beyond any jet ever built so far.”

Team Tempest last month signed a statement of intent with a raft of Italian companies which will see them collaborate on the project.

Tempest graphic
Tempest Infographics

Charles Woodburn, Group Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems said: “Our proven record of successful collaboration with Italian industry makes us certain that this partnership between our two nations is a strong fit for Tempest and demonstrates the growing momentum behind this important international endeavour.

“Today’s announcement will expand existing partnerships with MBDA and Leonardo, which are central to our work in unleashing the full potential of Typhoon, as together we develop future combat air technologies to the benefit of both nations.”

As such, one of the challenges of the project would be to establish what capabilities would be needed for the Tempest, with the aim for it to be deployed by 2035-2040. The Team Tempest programme already employs over 1,000 people across UK industry and the MOD is planning to increase that number to over 2,500 by 2021.

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