FIA Connect: Seven companies join Team Tempest

Harry Lye 20 July 2020 (Last Updated July 20th, 2020 13:14)

Speaking at the opening of Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) Connect, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that General Electric UK, QinetiQ, Collins Aerospace, Thales, Martin-Baker, GKN and Bombardier had joined Team Tempest, the UK’s push to develop a next-generation combat air system.

FIA Connect: Seven companies join Team Tempest
Concept imagery of the Tempest aircraft. Crown copyright.

Wallace added that the addition of the seven new firms would be bolstered by contributions from small-to-medium enterprises (SME’s) and universities that are also involved in the development effort.

Announcing the new Team Tempest partners Wallace said: “At Farnborough 2018 we unveiled our plans to deliver FCAS (Future Combat Air System) and strengthen our military capability with the formation of Team Tempest.

“Two years on I am proud to announce that that vision is becoming a reality. Over the next five years, I can announce we will be testing out a suite of new novel concepts that are likely to form our Future Combat Air System.”

Wallace added that today the RAF fleet is made up of a mix of around 90% manned and 10% unmanned aircraft and said that by 2040 he expected to see a ‘major reversal of these proportions’.

The seven companies join British, Italian and Swedish firms already working on the project led by the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office building on the existing industry team of Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Leonardo and MBDA.

Wallace said: “There is a real opportunity here, not just because of the technological spin-offs that will inspire the wider civilian sector, not just because of the boost we are giving our UK skills base, but because of the potential we have to break into lucrative global markets.”

Wallace added that the UK was ‘keen to see’ more international partners get involved with the programme adding: “This is your chance to share technology, experience and R&D costs, to strengthen existing alliances, and help establish new ones.”

Commenting on the announcement, Defence Minister Jeremy Quinn said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates further progress in delivering the UK’s combat air strategy, with more companies collaborating on the future of the UK’s Air Defence. This is a highly innovative project based around cutting-edge technology and drawing on a skills base where the UK excels.

“I am delighted that the success and strengths of Team Tempest are being enhanced through drawing on UK expertise; working with industrial partners and a highly capable international team we are configured for future success.”

The resultant aircraft of Team Tempest will replace the in-service Eurofighter Typhoon and serve in the Royal Air Force (RAF) alongside the Lockheed Martin F-35. The programme

currently employs around 1,800 engineers, a number expected to grow to 2,500 by next year.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said Team Tempest was “securing the UK’s position as a global leader in combat air.”

Saab to open new UK FCAS centre

The addition of the seven new UK partners on Tempest comes as SAAB today, also announced it is opening a £50m centre in the UK for the development of Future Combat Air Systems.

Sweden formally joined Team Tempest in 2019, with Saab leading Swedish industrial involvement with the UK-led programme. The new Saab FCAS facility bolsters investment in Team Tempest by £50m.

Saab President and CEO Micael Johansson said:” Combat Air is a key component of Sweden’s defence policy and it is defined as a national security interest. Saab’s FCAS strategy ensures that the technology is in place to support a long term future air capability and also to support continuous upgrades of Gripen E for decades to come.

“Saab took the decision to create a new FCAS centre so that we can further develop the close working relationship with the other FCAS industrial partners and the UK Ministry of Defence. This emphasises the importance of both FCAS and the United Kingdom to Saab’s future,”