Tempest – UK Sixth Generation Fighter Program Invites Japan to Join; London to sign contract with key partners


There has been a race between the Western countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, etc. to develop a sixth generation fighter jet as they pursue global air dominance and technological advancements.

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France worked with Germany and Spain to jointly develop the European Next Generation Air Defense System, also known as the Future Future Combat Air System (FCAS). At the same time, the UK has partnered with Sweden and Italy, under its Tempest program, to develop a 6th generation aircraft.

As the United States works on its own sixth generation program called NGAD, aviation enthusiasts predict stiff competition among European nations. As Japan plans to join the UK-led Tempest program, experts say the competition could really intensify.

Future combat air system

The FCAS aims to replace the existing fleet of Eurofighter Typhoon, French Rafale aircraft and Spanish EF-18 Hornets by 2040. The New Generation Fighter (NGF) program is led by the French Dassault Aviation. Germany is represented by Airbus while Indra represents the participation of Spain.

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Even though the program got off to a promising start, it encountered a number of controversies regarding issues critical to its progress, such as intellectual property rights and work-sharing agreements between France, Germany and the United States. Spain.

A model of the new generation European fighter at the 2019 Paris Air Show (Wikipedia)

In April, the French Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee issued a statement saying that Airbus and Dassault had reached an agreement to remove “the main obstacle” to the launch of the demonstrator part of the combat program.

In July, the German Parliament approved investments to the tune of 5.3 billion dollars for the development of phase 1B as well as phase 2 of FCAS. This includes “research and technology activities” that will be carried out between 2021 and 2027.

The demonstrator part of the FCAS is planned until 2026 or 2027, as reported by EurAsian Times.

UK Tempest Program

This program is led by defense manufacturer BAE Systems along with Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA.

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“The new phase of the development of the Tempest fighter includes the definition and start of the design of the future combat air system, the maturation of technologies throughout the system, the investment in skilled manpower, digital and physical infrastructures and tools that underpin cutting-edge digital engineering, data and software-based systems ”, a declaration by the British Ministry of Defense said.

As announced in the MoU, Team Tempest aims to enable major program choices by 2024. According to reports, the UK government has agreed to invest more than £ 2 billion (2.7 billion dollars) in the project over the next four years. years, as reported by the Defense Command Paper.

Tempest-United Kingdom
A concept of the six-generation British hunter, the Tempest.

Apart from that, the program received an additional investment of £ 800million over the same duration. While most of the details have yet to be revealed, the new fighter is expected to harness next-generation technologies.

“Developing the system allows us to drive a revolution in digital development and harness the power of open systems architecture. We look forward to working with UK industry and international partners to create and deliver a system that will protect us for decades, ”said Richard Berthon, UK Director of Future Combat Air.

The UK has also made efforts to involve more countries in investing in this program. BAE’s FCAS director Michael Christie said he expects the contracts with Sweden and Italy as well as the design and evaluation phase to be signed by the end of this year. .

Will Japan join the Tempest program?

It was announced on September 15 at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms trade fair in London that Japan could become the next partner in the Anglo-Swedish-Italian FCAS program, known as Tempest.

Michael Christie said Reuters on September 29 that “talks with Japan went to the country joining the program as a partner to collaborate on technology.” “There is a lot of commonality between the UK and Japan in terms of what they are trying to achieve in this area… this is an area that is ongoing and that we are actively pursuing,” he added. .

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UK Program Director Air Commodore Johnny Moreton is said to have said: “We have been involved in negotiations, conversations and a few pilot projects. Nothing necessarily too complex at the moment. We’re currently doing a joint engine viability study with Japan, and it’s very exciting.

“They have an FX program that has a very similar timeline to ours, 2035. The threat is very similar to what we anticipate, and in terms of an industrial nation, clearly they sit at the top table just like us,” he said. he added.

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Moreton also said the UK and Japan could expand their partnership beyond engine technologies and could also include electronic warfare and radar development.

He further emphasized the “freedom of modification” in which the program and the new fighter aircraft will be designed so that each country participating in the program can customize the aircraft to meet its own needs.

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