Tempest sixth-generation demonstration fighter to fly by 2027

The sixth generation of supersonic stealth fighter planes is on its way. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that the British-led Future Combat Air System initiative’s Tempest fighter program will fly a combat air demonstrator by 2027.

Led by the MoD, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce, and MBDA UK, Team Tempest is tasked with developing the twin-engine, delta-wing Tempest fighter, which is scheduled to enter service with the RAF in 2035. The sixth-generation warplane will incorporate artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous systems to allow it to act as a flying command and control center. In addition, Tempest will have enough surplus electrical power for future hypersonic missiles and laser weapons, and drone swarm control systems.

All of this requires a lot of development of novel technologies, so producing a demonstrator aircraft is a vital step in building Tempest. This is particularly important because Tempest is not only intended as a key component in Britain’s air defenses, but also as a way of retaining domestic technological and industrial skills, bolstering exports, and providing the UK with independence in defense decisions while building cooperation with Tempest partner nations Japan and Italy.

The demonstrator will involve input from hundreds of companies and will be developed at Preston in Lancashire, UK, where testing, evaluation, and construction will be carried out. This will involve advanced digital engineering techniques, including synthetic modeling and model-based systems engineering to reduce the time needed to produce such a complex fighter.

“I am delighted that the UK, alongside Italy and Japan, are working on similar combat air journeys together,” said UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. “Our work with Japan and Italy on cutting-edge technology like this shows the benefit of our alliances across the world. The design and development of the demonstrator aircraft represents an important milestone, showcasing the success and talent of our engineers, programmers and software developers. This program will go on to attract opportunities for many more great minds and talent from across the UK.”

Source: BAE Systems

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David Szondy