Britain’s Tempest combat aircraft program | World Defense

Britain’s Tempest combat aircraft program

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Sweden joins to British next-generation fighter programme
06 July 2019

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Tempest concept fighter jet model


The Telegraph on Friday has reported that Sweden will be first partner nation in the British Tempest programme to build a next-generation fighter jet.

“Britain’s Team Tempest programme to build a new fighter jet has moved a step closer to getting into the air with Sweden poised to announce it has signed up as the project’s first international partner,” according to The Telegraph.

A future combat air system, called the Tempest, is a joint project with British aerospace companies BAE Systems Plc, Rolls Royce Holdings Plc, MBDA UK Ltd and Anglo-Italian firm Leonardo SpA.

The Tempest programme aims to harness and develop UK capabilities that are critical for Next Generation (NextGen) Combat Air capability and to retain the UK’s position as a globally competitive leader through understanding of future concepts, technologies and capabilities.

A future combat air system must be able to survive the most challenging combat environments meaning that payload-range, speed and manoeuvrability will be key. Britain officials say that they expect that the system will be equipped with a range of sensors including radio frequency, active and passive electro-optical sensors and advanced electronic support measures to detect and intercept threats.

The system is likely to operate with kinetic and non-kinetic weapons. The integration of Laser Directed Energy Weapons for self-defence and use within visual range combat is also highly likely. The ability to deploy and manage air launched ‘swarming’ Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) through a flexible payload bay allows the system to address dangerous Anti-Access Area Denial environments.

Air forces of the future will require a fighter system that is highly flexible and can be applied to a wide variety of military operations. Operators will have the ability to rapidly adapt the system to perform new functions or to change its performance.

According to The Telegraph, next-generation jet – planned to be in service in 2035 – is aimed at maintaining Britain as a world power in military aircraft.

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Italy joins Britain’s Tempest combat aircraft program
10 Sept 2019

9854

The U.K. Ministry of Defence revealed a next-generation fighter jet concept model, dubbed Tempest, during the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, as part of the launch of a new, national Combat Air Strategy. (BAE Systems)

LONDON — Italy is expected to join a nascent British effort to build a sixth-generation fighter jet, expanding that program’s membership club to three partners after Sweden signed up earlier this summer.

Officials here at the DSEI defense trade show were still unsure as of Tuesday afternoon in what form the government-to-government agreement would be announced, saying that Italy’s and Britain’s turbulent political situations made for little certainty. It appeared that a written statement by the respective defense ministries would be published by Wednesday morning, to be accompanied by a formal event that day.

The U.K. subsidiary of Italy’s Leonardo has been part of the program since it announced its participation at the Farnborough Airshow last year, working on new new ideas for sensors and avionics. It remains to be seen if involving the whole of Italy’s flagship contractor will alter the playing field on the industrial side.

Tempest is meant to take flight sometime around 2040, replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon for the British Royal Air Force. The promise of a sixth-generation capability lies in the integration of manned and unmanned planes carrying weapons and sensors, tied together by a complex data network and cloud-like information infrastructure.

Information on the scope of Italy’s involvement in the program was eagerly awaited at DSEI, with some sources suggesting Rome’s participation could go beyond what Sweden and its go-to contractor Saab signed up for in July.

During a news conference in July, Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe described the prospect of jointly developing Britain’s Tempest platform as only one of several possible outcomes of the tie-up inked by the two countries’ defense ministers that month.

The near-term objective, he said, is for Saab to participate in cutting-edge research that could help boost the performance of its latest Gripen E fighter. The jet is “75 percent software,” he explained, which presents the possibility of new capabilities without major hardware changes.

The involvement of Italy in Tempest solidifies what is becoming a major race in Europe to develop a next-generation warplane for the continent. France, Germany and Spain are pursuing a separate effort, the Future Combat Air System, with Airbus and Dassault in the industry lead.

 

AliYusuf

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Maybe it is the photo on display that is creating a bit of doubt in my mind that whether there is enough space for
1) Big enough internal weapons bay (a must for maintaining a stealthy profile and not allow external stores to increase unwanted RCS).
2) Fuel for proper mission loads over reasonable distances.
3) Housing a powerful enough power-plant to give acceptable field performance.
 

Khafee

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Maybe it is the photo on display that is creating a bit of doubt in my mind that whether there is enough space for
1) Big enough internal weapons bay (a must for maintaining a stealthy profile and not allow external stores to increase unwanted RCS).
2) Fuel for proper mission loads over reasonable distances.
3) Housing a powerful enough power-plant to give acceptable field performance.
Till a prototype is actually flying, very hard to tell.
 

Mastankhan

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Maybe it is the photo on display that is creating a bit of doubt in my mind that whether there is enough space for
1) Big enough internal weapons bay (a must for maintaining a stealthy profile and not allow external stores to increase unwanted RCS).
2) Fuel for proper mission loads over reasonable distances.
3) Housing a powerful enough power-plant to give acceptable field performance.

Hi,

The size in the display looks good---for all what you wrote---.
 

Counter-Errorist

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A194%20%281%29.jpg


October 31, 2019

Key point (Note: This first appeared last year and is being reposted due to vast reader interest): The Tempest fighter will feature cutting-edge technologies not even in the F-35.

The Tempest was unveiled alongside a new “Combat Air Strategy” document marking the UK’s reorientation to preparing for high-intensity conflicts and the danger posed by modern anti-aircraft weapons. However, the document largely focuses on industrial and financial matters, particularly on keeping British military aerospace sector sustainable despite constrained defense budgets and the steadily increasing cost of high-performance platforms like the Type 26 frigate.

With a flourish of a silk curtain at the Farnborough Air Show on July 16, British defense secretary Gavin Williamson unveiled a full-scale model of the Tempest, the UK’s concept for a domestically built twin-engine stealth fighter to enter service in the 2030s. The Tempest will supposedly boast a laundry list of sixth-generation technologies such as being optionally-manned, mounting hypersonic or directed energy weapons, and capability to deploy and control drone swarms. However, it may also represent a Brexit-era gambit to revive defense cooperation with Germany and France.

London has seeded “Team Tempest” with £2 billion ($2.6 billion) for initial development through 2020. Major defense contractor BAE System is leading development with the Royal Air Force, with Rolls Royce contributing engines, European firm MBDA integrating weapons, and Italian company Leonardo developing sensors and avionics.

Design will supposedly be finalized in the early 2020s, with a flyable prototype planned in 2025 and production aircraft entering service in 2035, gradually replacing the RAF’s fourth-generation Typhoon fighters and complementing F-35 stealth jets. This seventeen-year development cycle is considered ambitious for something as complicated and expensive as a stealth fighter.

The Tempest mockup suggests a relatively large single-seat, twin-engine delta-wing fighter with a cranked trailing edge and two vertical stabilizers (tail fins) canted inwards as on the F-22 stealth fighter. According to analyst Justin Bronk, these last improve maneuverability and suggest emphasis on kinematic performance over pure stealth. The larger airframe also implies a desire for greater range and weapons load than an F-35 can muster in stealth mode. However, reportedly no performance parameters such as maximum speed, range, radar cross-section etc. were stated in the presentation.

Rolls Royce boasts that the Tempest’s stealthily recessed adaptive-cycle turbofans will be made of lightweight composite materials, feature superior thermal management and digital maintenance controls, and generate large quantities of electricity through magnets in the turbine cores.

Surplus electricity may be of particular interest for powering directed energy weapons, which could range from lasers to microwaves. The U.S. Air Force plans to test a defensive anti-missile laser turret for its jets in the early 2020s, but the Tempest presentation mentions using direct energy weapons for ‘non-kinetic’ purposes, which may imply disrupting or damaging adversary sensors.

The Tempest is to have a modular internal payload bay which can be reconfigured for various sensors or weapons. A Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles and a SPEAR-3 cruise missile were displayed next to the mock-up, and compatibility with next-generation “Deep Strike” missiles is also listed. The presentation at Farnborough also lists hypersonic missiles (which travel over five times the speed of sound, making interception extremely difficult) and swarms of deadly drones as offensive capabilities. To ease the workload on the pilot, the aircraft would utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize the drone’s behavior.

Like the F-35, the Tempest would employ a diverse array of passive and active sensors, and a Tempest pilot may able to gaze “through” his or her own plane using a helmet-mounted device, which may also replace conventional cockpit display panels. “Cooperative Engagement” technology would also allow a Tempest to fuse sensor data with friendly aircraft, ships or ground forces using “reconfigurable” communication systems and data links. This could allow one platform to hand off sensor data to another platform, which could then launch missiles without exposing itself.

However, the F-35’s networked computers have aroused fears that it is vulnerable to hacking—thus the presentation lists “resilience to cyberattack” as a characteristic of the Tempest. This could pose additional challenges given plans for the Tempest to be “optionally manned”—which means it can be flown remotely without an onboard pilot if preferred. Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles are generally thought to be the future of air warfare, but air forces so far are opting to test the waters by contemplating optionally-manned fighters. However, though optionally manned fighters offer a means to avoid putting pilots at risk on dangerous missions, they still come with the cost and performance disadvantages of manned aircraft.

The Tempest was unveiled alongside a new “Combat Air Strategy” document marking the UK’s reorientation to preparing for high-intensity conflicts and the danger posed by modern anti-aircraft weapons. However, the document largely focuses on industrial and financial matters, particularly on keeping British military aerospace sector sustainable despite constrained defense budgets and the steadily increasing cost of high-performance platforms like the Type 26 frigate.

In any context, seeing through the Tempest project to completion would prove daunting. The Tempest itself is a successor to the BAE Replica, a two-seat British stealth-fighter concept that was abandoned in 2005, though BAE leveraged technology used in its creation to become a major partner in the F-35 program. Currently, the UK is currently receiving forty-eight F-35B stealth jump jets for its Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, and theoretically plans to order another ninety F-35s for the Royal Air Force. While an RAF officer at Farnborough claimed Tempest would “have no impact” on F-35 acquisitions, it is difficult to foresee where else in the budget the money would come from.

However, at this stage the Tempest is surely a political game piece in a Brexit-bound UK, which risks being isolated from European markets. It happens that only a few months earlier, Germany and France trumpeted that Dassault and Airbus would work together on their own sixth-generation stealth jet program, Future Combat Air System—notably without inviting British companies, though their eventual participation was not ruled out, likely depending on how Brexit plays out.

In truth, both stealth-fighter programs could easily prove prohibitively expensive without buy-in from multiple countries. Two billion pounds is a lot of money, but is far less than one-tenth of what a successful Tempest program would cost. The preferred scenario might be for a “European” stealth fighter combining the two stealth-fighter programs. A glance at the FCAS’s projected capabilities shows they are broadly similar to those of the Tempest.

The Tempest therefore may not only be an attempt by London to retain a domestic aerospace sector capable of building stealth jets, but also part of an elaborate courtship to entice EU nations into reconsidering joint-development of one. Indeed, Airbus Defense CEO Dirk Hoke made a comment “welcoming” the Tempest program. Possible British partnership with Sweden—producer of the capable Gripen fighter—is also frequently speculated for the Tempest, and it’s worth noting that BAE recently signed on to assist Turkish TAI in producing a TF-X stealth fighter.

The UK, France and Germany have all now proclaimed their intent to develop sixth-generation stealth jets and backed that up with initial investments. However, it will likely be a while before we can tell whether the respective governments can sustain the long-term financial outlays, international cooperation, and technically challenging development processes to produce Europe’s first stealth jet.


Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared in 2018.

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Why Britain's Tempest Stealth Fighter May Out-Class the F-35
 

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Air Forces Monthly, Issue 402, Sept 2021, Page 8
 

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Britain and Japan join forces on next-generation fighter engine

By Andrew Chuter
Dec 22, 2021

LONDON – Britain and Japan are joining forces in the development of an engine demonstrator capable of powering the separate sixth-generation fighters being pursued by both nations.

The two governments have signed a memorandum of cooperation enabling teaming to take place on the engine demonstrator and possibly other, as yet, unspecified areas of technology, the British Ministry of Defence said in an announcement confirming the tie-up Dec 22.


The engine development work, led by IHI and Rolls-Royce, is formally scheduled to get underway early next year following a joint engine viability study which has been underway for a while. Japan’s defense ministry said efforts would commence in its next financial year, which begins on April 1, 2022.

The Japanese government has been in talks with the British on fighter jet cooperation for some time and announced in July that it was interested in a joint power plant development effort.

London and Tokyo both have sixth-generation combat jet programs underway with similar time frames for delivery of aircraft in the mid-2030s. Japan’s envisioned fighter, which is designated the F-X, will replace some 90 Mitsubishi F-2s currently in service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force beginning in 2035.


IHI is Japan’s largest aircraft engine manufacturer and by its estimate responsible for 60-70% of the country’s aircraft engine market share. The company is also the primary contractor and manufacturer for aircraft engines used by the Ministry of Defense and is the manufacturer of engines for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Kawasaki P-1 anti-submarine aircraft and T-4 jet trainer.

It has also developed the XF-9, a low-bypass turbofan capable of producing 33,000 lbf of thrust with afterburner engaged. The company has also previously developed the XF5 turbofan that powered Japan’s X-2 Shinshin fighter technology demonstrator, which carried out a series of test flights between 2016 and 2018.

Meanwhile, BAE Systems, alongside MBDA UK, Leonardo UK, and Rolls-Royce, are leading the U.K. Future Combat Air System industrial program, also known as Tempest.

Italy and Sweden are already partners in the program, signing a trilateral memorandum of understanding with the British to collaborate on future combat air systems and technologies.


Japan is developing the F-X fighter, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries taking the industrial lead, supported by Lockheed Martin.

The British MoD said it is investing an initial £30 million, or $40 million, in the engine demonstrator effort, with the money going towards planning, digital designs and innovative manufacturing developments.

A further £200 million ($267 million) of U.K. funding is expected to go towards developing a full-scale demonstrator power system said the MoD.

In a statement, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the deal on the engine and possibly other combat air technologies was evidence of the government’s intentions to pivot its defense, security and trade effort to the Indo-Pacific region.


“Strengthening our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific is a strategic priority, and this commitment with Japan, one of our closest security partners in Asia, is a clear example of that.

“Designing a brand-new combat air system with a fighter aircraft at its heart is a highly ambitious project, so working with like-minded nations is vital. Building on the technological and industrial strengths of our two countries, we will be exploring a wide-ranging partnership across next-generation combat air technologies,” said Wallace.

In the U.K. this work will be undertaken by the Team Tempest industry partners: BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce.

Speaking at the DSEI exhibition in London in September, U.K. program director Air Commodore Johny Moreton said the partnership could be extended, into electronic warfare and radar capabilities.


However, those are “very much at a minor stage at this point,” he said.

The British have for several years been supporting Japan in the development of Tokyo’s Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) program.

The weapon is based on a government-to-government arrangement encompassing MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range, air-to-air-missile but fitted with a new Japanese seeker head.

The U.K. and Japanese defense ministries will explore the feasibility of further sub-systems collaboration throughout 2022, said the British MoD announcement.

Britain and Japan have been signaling their move to a closer defense arrangement for a while. In October the two sides announced they would begin formal negotiations to increase bilateral defense cooperation.

Defense relations were also boosted by the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leading a strike group visit to Japan as part of a wider deployment to the Far East.

Mike Yeo contributed to this story from Melbourne, Australia.
 
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