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BAE Lands a Major £656 Million Deal: The Advent of the Tempest Future Aircraft Program

The UK Department of Defence (DoD) has granted a contract augmentation valued at £656 million to BAE Systems to advance the ideation and technology of the forthcoming generation combat aircraft, christened as Tempest in the UK. The additional funding will amplify the revolutionary science, investigation, and engineering already accomplished under the initial phase of the agreement executed by UK Tempest associates BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, and Rolls-Royce. The UK Tempest collaborators, in tight cooperation with the DoD, will henceforth advance the maturity of over 60 state-of-the-art technology showcases, digital models, and novel technologies. These are imperative to the UK’s independent defence capacity and will aid in defining the final prerequisites – in conjunction with the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) associates in Japan and Italy – for the combat air platform, projected to initiate service with the Royal Air Force by 2035. The aircraft is conceived to be an inventive stealth fighter with supersonic capacity and outfitted with avant-garde technologies, including cutting-edge sensing and protection capabilities.

“This contract embodies the sustained commitment by the UK Government and guarantees we persist in maturing this substantial programme and the crucial technology conduit that will propel innovation into – and beyond – the combat air sector for many upcoming decades. This crucial work is at the heart of the newly instituted Global Combat Air Programme; a significant international collaboration and ambitious venture between the UK, Japan, and Italy with the mutual objective to deliver the next iteration of combat air fighter jets,” commented Herman Claesen, Managing Director, Future Combat Air Systems – BAE Systems Air Sector.

“The forthcoming tranche of funding for future combat air will aid in amalgamating the combined technologies and expertise we possess with our international partners – both in Europe and the Pacific – to deliver this world-class fighter jet by 2035, safeguarding our skies for many upcoming decades,” expressed Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence.

“Today, as scheduled, the UK DoD is unveiling the next tranche of funding for future combat air. This demonstrates that the UK is dedicated to collaborating with international partners to deliver a next-gen fighter jet for 2035. We are encountering a rising threat from our opponents, who are investing in combat air and their own air defences,” shared Richard Berthon, DoD Director Future Combat Air.

GCAP capitalizes on the significant progress already achieved in the UK by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce and the UK DoD who have been partnering since 2018 to study, assess and develop a myriad of next-gen future combat air systems capabilities. The programme will span numerous decades, generating thousands of jobs and economic benefit to the UK, Italy, and Japan while maintaining critical sovereign skills for the three nations. The programme is motivating current and prospective generations to contribute to this essential international effort. Already, over 2,800 people are employed at the UK partners and broader industry, with nearly 600 organizations on contract, including SMEs and academic institutions. Across the UK industry, work on this programme is spurring investment in new digital technologies, tools, and methodologies, including model-based systems engineering with open architectures, digital twins, and virtual environments. This will ensure the forthcoming generation combat aircraft will be delivered more swiftly and more cost-effectively than prior combat air programmes.

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