Team Tempest: Britain's Stealth Fighter Program Reaches a Milestone

Team Tempest: Britain's Stealth Fighter Program Reaches a Milestone

Although the United Kingdom flies the F-35, it is keen to build its own indigenous stealth fighter.

Ben Wallace, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for defense, recently announced plans to build a “new flying combat air demonstrator” that will be essential for the U.K.’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The combat demonstrator will “play a critical role in proving the technology and design principles” for the FCAS.

A press release from BAE Systems, one of the leading defense contractors behind the project, explained that “the flagship project is part of a suite of novel technologies being developed by Team Tempest. These concepts are designed to demonstrate and test the next generation combat air skills, tools, processes and techniques needed to ensure Tempest, the UK’s Future Combat Air System, achieves in service in 2035.”

Though 2035 is a ways away, it is nonetheless an ambitious introduction date for the United Kingdom, considering the limited resources it is able to dedicate to the project—the United Kingdom’s defense budget is a fraction of the United States’ budget.

“I am delighted that the UK, alongside Italy and Japan are working on similar combat air journeys together. Our work with Japan and Italy on cutting-edge technology like this shows the benefit of our alliances across the world,” explained Ben Wallace.

“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,” Wallace added.

Although the United Kingdom flies the F-35, an American-designed fifth-generation stealth fighter, the island kingdom is keen to diversify its air forces by building its own indigenous advanced stealth fighter.

Interestingly, Japan recently signaled its interest in developing its own indigenous stealth fighter in conjunction with the Brits—the thought being that both nations could combine their resources and expertise to field the best possible fighter for each country. The Japanese fighter will be known as the F-X.

“We recognize our responsibility in providing trusted sovereign combat air capability. We’re partnering with the UK’s highly motivated and skilled supply chain to accelerate the innovation of the nation’s future air power; integrating new technologies so the Royal Air Force and its allies can stay ahead of our adversaries,” explained Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems.

“The demonstrator is an exciting once-in-a-generation opportunity providing experienced and young engineers alike a chance to contribute to an endeavor which really matters to our national defense and security,” Woodburn added.

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.

Image: DVIDS.