It comes after the announcement in the Defence Command Paper earlier this week that the UK will invest £2bn into the project over the next four years.
Speaking at the virtual Combat Air Power Conference on Wednesday, Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin MP, said the money will help launch the next phase in designing and delivering the "world-leading future combat air system".
Mr Quin also warned if the UK's combat airpower does not keep up with its adversaries, it could find itself "locked out of the skies".
He added: "The freedom of the air cannot be taken for granted.
"As our recently published Integrated Review underlined, technology and the threats we are facing have moved on."
WATCH: Mr Quin speaks about the Tempest project at the virtual Combat Air Power Conference.
Mr Quin also warned: "Thirty years ago, the UK and its western allies appeared unchallenged in the air domain.
"Today our adversaries have caught up. But a major national and international endeavour is now underway."
He said the "state-of-the-art" Tempest will ensure "decades from now, whenever the next conflict may arise, that we will stay in control of the air, winning the air fight and protecting our peace and prosperity for generations to come".
The Tempest is expected to enter service by 2035 and replace the RAF's Typhoon fighter aircraft.
A core aircraft will likely form one element of a network of capabilities which could include long-range weapons, space-based sensors and supporting uncrewed aircraft.
Cover image: MOD.