RAF

Chief Of The Air Staff: RAF To Build Fleet Fit For 'Complex, Digital Battlespace Of The Future'

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston spoke to Forces News at RAF Lossiemouth following the publication of the Defence Command Paper.

The future vision for the Armed Forces will allow the RAF to build a fleet suitable for "the complex, digital battlespace of the future", the head of the RAF has told Forces News.

It comes after the publication of the Defence Command Paper on Monday, which gave more information on the military's future following last week's Integrated Review.

The paper outlined a number of plans for the RAF, including a £2bn investment in the Tempest programme which aims to create a sixth-generation fighter jet by 2035.

Speaking during a visit to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland on Tuesday, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said the plans will give the UK the chance to take a leading role in the project. 

The Tempest is expected to replace the Typhoon fighter but Air Chief Marshal Wigston said it will be "so much more that", adding: "It will be the platform that will drive all sorts of technological innovation across industry.

"And it will be prosperity for the UK, for the 46,000 people who directly and indirectly work in the combat aerospace industry."

The Defence Command Paper detailed a number of plans for the Air Force, including a pledge to have at least 48 F-35s in the next four years and replacing the current nine Reaper drones with Protector models by 2024.

Quick Reaction Alert Typhoons are based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray (Picture: RAF).

Air Chief Marshal Wigston said: "Across the Royal Air Force, across all of our fleets, it's a mandate to modernise and it's an opportunity for us to build a Royal Air Force that's absolutely fit for the complex, digital battlespace of the future."

The Chief of the Air Staff was joined at RAF Lossiemouth by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack MP, who stressed the relationship between Scotland and defence.

He told Forces News that Scotland has "always been an important part of UK defence".

"It's not just military personnel but it's also some of the bases we have in Scotland which are so critical," he said.

"Particularly this one here in Lossiemouth, but also at Faslane, so critical to the defence of the United Kingdom and [also] playing a strong, strong role in NATO."

RAF Lossiemouth has changed a lot over the last few years, undergoing major upgrades and welcoming the RAF's new P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

In the Defence Command Paper, it was confirmed the E-3 Sentry will be replaced by three E-7 Wedgetail aircraft in 2023, based at Lossiemouth.

There will also be an update on the radar system for seven Typhoon squadrons, the paper said.