The UK Ministry of Defence has announced a significant funding boost to continue the development of the next-generation fighter jet, Tempest.

The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) partners are Japan and Italy, in a trilateral collaboration. The programme focuses on the aircraft’s 2035 in-service date to ensure the UK armed forces gain an advantage against their adversaries.

The MOD has awarded the primary contract to BAE Systems on behalf of defence firms; Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce to progress the design and development of this aircraft.

A team of Italian companies have also stated their willingness to participate in developing the new Global Combat Air Programme, having signed a contract to support the Italian Ministry of Defence in the programme’s new concept.

This investment forms part of more than £2 billion worth of UK Government spending on the project up to May 2025, announced in the 2021 Defence Command Paper. The announcement follows the UK, Japan and Italy joined forces at DSEI Japan to showcase GCAP publicly for the first time since it was announced by the Prime Ministers of the UK, Japan and Italy late last year.

Tushar Sudesh Manguire, aerospace, defence, and security analyst at GlobalData claims: “The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) enables the participating countries to capitalize their defence R&D and manufacturing expertise to fast track the design and development of the aircraft.”

Tempest is the UK name for the aircraft in development under GCAP. The aircraft is designed to be a stealth fighter with supersonic capability.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The next tranche of funding for future combat air will help fuse the combined technologies and expertise we have with our international partners – both in Europe and the Pacific -to deliver this world-leading fighter jet by 2035, protecting our skies for decades to come.”

This level of funding is a significant success compared to their rival project from France, Germany, and Spain’s joint efforts to develop their Future Combat Air System (SCAF) fighter. This funding shows that the GCAP is ahead in a timeline compared to the SCAF programme.

Tushar Sudesh Manguire concluded: “It also ensures that some of the infrastructure, technologies, and sub-systems developed for the F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon may find application in the GCAP. Additionally, the collaborative approach overcomes the budgetary pressure on individual partner countries.”