How A Future Force Of UK Fighter Jets Might Look Beyond The Typhoon

The Combat Air Strategy also includes upgrades to existing capabilities such as the Typhoon and F-35.

A model of the Tempest fighter jet was unveiled in Farnborough. (Image: PA).

The UK's strategy to replace the Typhoon aircraft has been launched, including the unveiling of a concept model of a next-generation fighter.

The Tempest concept was revealed at Farnborough International Airshow, and as much as £2 billion will be invested in the project.

Tempest fighter jet
A model of the Tempest fighter jet was unveiled in Farnborough. (Image: PA).

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

"It shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future - and this concept model is just a glimpse into what the future could look like.

"Today’s news leaves industry, our military, the country, and our allies in no doubt that the UK will be flying high in the combat air sector as we move into the next generation."

Team Tempest infographic
How technology could work on the Tempest. (Image: BAE Systems).

Also visiting Farnborough, the Prime Minister made the announcement of the strategy:

"The government will join with BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls Royce to fund the next phase of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative through a groundbreaking partnership known as Team Tempest," said Theresa May.

"This will deliver up to £2 billion of investment up to 2025 and help secure the long-term future of our combat air industry as we lay the groundwork for the Typhoon successor programme."

The Combat Air Strategy will include investments to upgrade the Typhoon, as well as beginning the programme to deliver the 'Tempest' - a possible successor to the Typhoon, with 2035 the target for operational capability.

Further decisions on the Typhoon's successor will be made in the 2020s.

The Typhoon is expected to remain in service with the RAF until at least 2040, while a decision on how to acquire the Typhoon's successor will be made by the end of 2020.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: "Team Tempest demonstrates our commitment in ensuring that we continue to build our capabilities, draw upon our experience and history to bring forward a compelling vision for the next generation fighter jet.

"In last 100 years, the RAF has led the way and today's announcement is a clear demonstration of what lies ahead."

Defence Minister for Procurment, Guto Bebb, told Forces News that the Government aims to provide security to the aviation industry post-Brexit: "People understand that there is a great deal of anxiety, not necessarily because people think Brexit is bad or good, it's the uncertainty...the biggest challenges to business is uncertainty.

"So what we're trying to do is where Government can actually give that certainty and give that vote of confidence in the future, we should be doing it."

The F-35B fighter jet (Picture: MoD/Crown Copyright).
The F-35B fighter jet (Picture: MoD/Crown Copyright).

For the next few decades, the MoD says the UK's "future force" will be based around the upgraded Typhoon and F-35.

In April, Forces News was told that the upgrade programme for the Typhoon fighter jet was "on time and on budget".

During her visit to Farnborough, Theresa May also viewed a selection of commercial and military aircraft as well as space mission hardware including an A400M Atlas.

The Royal Air Force received delivery of the 20th next-generation Atlas military transport aircraft last week, which has been handed over to the RAF at Brize Norton.

Red Arrows flypast Farnborough
A Spitfire and Red Arrows flypast was watched by the Prime Minister. (Image: PA).

The Prime Minister watched a flypast to officially open the show, before speaking to astronaut and British Army Air Corps officer Major Tim Peake.

They visited a stand run by the UK Space Agency, where they viewed a prototype of a Mars rover named Bruno.

It is being developed by Airbus in Stevenage for use on a joint mission to Mars between the European Space Agency and Russia's space agency in 2020.