BAE Systems Tempest

The BAE Systems Tempest is a proposed sixth-generation fighter aircraft that is under development in the United Kingdom for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The aircraft is intended to enter service from 2035, gradually replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon. It is being developed as part of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme by a consortium known as Team Tempest, which includes the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo, and MBDA UK. £2 billion is planned to be spent by the British government on the initial phase of the project up to 2025.[2]

Team tempest.jpg
BAE Systems conceptual illustration
Role Sixth-generation fighter
National origin United Kingdom
Introduction Planned for 2035
Status Merged into Global Combat Air Programme[1]

Both Italy and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2020 committing to explore collaboration on the FCAS programme.[3] The UK and Japan announced they are working together on the joint development of engine and radar demonstrators. This was followed by an announcement in December 2022 of the Global Combat Air Programme; a collaboration between Italy, Japan and the UK for a sixth-generation fighter aircraft.[4]


Development of the Tempest began in 2015.[5]

On 16 July 2018, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) published its Combat Air Strategy. The key elements of this are:[6][7]

  • Continue development of the Typhoon.
  • Implement the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative which was established by the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
  • Study of Typhoon replacement programmes.
  • "Build on or establish new [international] partnerships to deliver future requirements."
  • Focus on affordability.

The document describes combat air as "An aircraft, manned or unmanned, whose prime function is to conduct air-to-air and/or air-to-surface combat operations in a hostile and/or contested environment, whilst having the ability to concurrently conduct surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and command and control tasks."[7] On the same day, the Tempest programme was introduced at the Farnborough Airshow as part of the Combat Air Strategy to maintain UK's combat aircraft development capabilities.[8]

The Tempest will be a sixth-generation jet fighter incorporating several new technologies including deep learning AI, ability to fly unmanned, swarming drones, directed-energy weapons,[9] virtual cockpit in helmet[10][11] and hypersonic weapons.[12] £2 billion was earmarked until 2025.[13][9] It was developed by a group called Team Tempest, consisting of the BAE Systems, project leader and systems integrator; Rolls-Royce, working on power and propulsion; Leonardo S.p.A., working on sensors, electronics and avionics; MBDA, working on weapons;[9][14][11] and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Rapid Capabilities Office.[8][10] The maiden flight is anticipated to occur by 2025 ahead of entry into service by 2035.[10][15] Tempest will replace the Eurofighter Typhoon in RAF service.[9] The RAF's Second World War Hawker Tempest fighter also followed a Typhoon.[16] Some technology developed for Tempest will be implemented in Typhoon.[13]

In 2018 it was reported that the MoD was in talks with officials from Sweden about a common fighter jet aircraft.[17][18][9] On 8 February 2019, it was reported that the MoD and BAE Systems planned to approach the Indian MoD and Air Force regarding collaboration for the design and manufacture of the Tempest.[19]

In July 2019, Team Tempest revealed that they planned to use a Boeing 757 as a testbed for technology developed for Tempest.[20] The aircraft, named Excalibur, will be the only stealth fighter testbed outside the United States.[21]

International involvementEdit

On 19 July 2019, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore ways of jointly developing sixth-generation air combat technologies.[22][23] Swedish public service TV SVT reported that Sweden is now a part of the Tempest project,[24] however Jane's Defence Weekly later clarified that Sweden was not formally part of the Tempest project, but is rather cooperating on the broader Combat Air Strategy. A decision on full commitment to Tempest by Sweden was expected by the third quarter of 2020.[25]

Italy announced its involvement in Team Tempest on 10 September 2019.[25][26] The Statement of Intent was signed between the UK participant bodies and Italian participant companies (Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy).[27]

At the virtual Farnborough Airshow in July 2020, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced seven new companies were joining the Team Tempest consortium: GEUK, GKN, Collins Aerospace, Martin Baker, QinetiQ, Bombardier in Belfast (now Spirit Aerosystems) and Thales UK, along with UK universities and SMEs. The companies will develop more than 60 technology prototypes and demonstration activities. By July 2020, trilateral industry discussions between UK, Sweden and Italy had begun;[28] also announced was an initial investment of £50m in the project by Saab and the opening of a Future Combat Air Systems centre in the UK.[28] Saab did not however explicitly commit to Tempest.[29]

The involvement of Italy and Sweden was confirmed by the signing of a trilateral MoU with the UK, called Future Combat Air System Cooperation (FCASC), on 21 December 2020, "defining general principles for co-operation on an equal basis between the three countries".[3]

On 29 July 2021, the project moved into the Concept and Assessment phase, with BAE Systems being awarded a £250 million contract to advance the design.[30] In August 2021 Italy announced its intention to invest €2 billion by 2035 starting with a €20 million contribution in 2021 followed by the same amount in 2022 and 2023.[31] In the July 2022 Italian defence budget, the development of the fighter was accelerated with Italy now budgeting a spend of €220 million in 2022 and €345 million in 2023, with a forecast total investment of €3.8 billion by 2036.[32]

On 22 December 2021, it was announced that the UK and Japan would jointly develop an engine testbed, with the UK initially contributing £30m for design to be followed by £200m for production of the testbed.[33] On 15 February 2022, the UK and Japan also agreed on the joint development of next-generation fighter radar demonstrator named JAGUAR (Japan And Great Britain Universal Advanced RF sensor), led by Leonardo UK and Mitsubishi Electric.[34][35]

On 18 July 2022, the UK announced that a demonstrator aircraft would be flown for the first time "within the next five years". According to the MOD press release, the demonstrator's development is already underway at the BAE Systems facility in Preston, England and it has already been flown in simulators.[36]

Discussions to combine efforts on Tempest with Japan's own Mitsubishi F-X fighter project as a means to cut development costs began as early as 2017.[37][20][9] The final decision made towards the end of 2022 to merge the development and deployment of a common fighter jet under a project called the "Global Combat Air Program" (GCAP) with development shared with Italy.[38][39][4]


A mock-up of the Tempest at the DSEI fair in 2019

Tempest will be modular, both to be easily role-adapted to fit the particular mission as well as have easily upgradeable components during its lifetime.[40] It has delta-wings and a pair of outwards-pointing vertical stabilisers.[15] It will incorporate stealth technology, be able to fly unmanned, and use swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate artificial intelligence deep learning and carry directed-energy weapons.[40][9][12] The aircraft will have a Cooperative Engagement Capability which is the ability to share data and messages with other aircraft and coordinate actions.[15][12] Tempest will feature virtual cockpit shown on a pilot's helmet-mounted display[40] using a Striker II unit,[11] and an adaptive cycle engine that utilises composite materials and improved manufacturing process to be lightweight and have better thermal management while still keeping costs low.[15][10]

Leonardo has proposed a radar warning receiver that is four times as accurate at 1/10th of the size of current units.[41]

The aircraft has a slightly raised rear fuselage section, to accommodate “S-shaped” ducting behind its twin-engine inlets, to reduce its frontal radar cross-section.[42] Its two engines are placed deep inside the fuselage to minimise radar and infrared signatures.[15]

The aircraft's two generators are able to provide 10 times more electrical power than the Typhoon's.[5][43] One of the generators serves as an electrical starter, eliminating the need of a mechanical or compressed-air starting system for the engine.[44]

The pilot's helmet will monitor brain signals and other medical data, amassing a unique biometric and psychometric information database for each pilot, that will grow the more the pilot flies. The aircraft's AI will work in conjunction with the database to assist the pilot, for example taking over flight controls if the pilot blacks out due to g-force or increasing its own workload when the pilot is overwhelmed or under increased stress e.g. taking over terminal guidance after weapon deployment if the pilot's attention is focused on a more imminent threat to the aircraft. The AI is also intended to act as a gatekeeper that will parse the overwhelming quantity of sensor and intelligence data collected by the aircraft to identify key threats, while throttling the rate processed data is provided to the pilot to prevent the pilot being overloaded.[45][46]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kelly, Tim. Sandle, Paul. and Kubo, Nobuhiro. (9 December 2022). "Japan, Britain and Italy to build jet fighter together". Reuters. Retrieved 11 January 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Defence in a Competitive Age (PDF). Ministry of Defence. March 2021. ISBN 978-1-5286-2462-6. Retrieved 22 March 2021.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b Peruzzi, Luca (3 January 2021). "Italy, UK and Sweden sign MoU on development of Tempest". Janes. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b Chuter, Andrew (9 December 2022). "Move over, Tempest: Japan pact takes UK-Italy fighter plan 'global'". Defense News. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  5. ^ a b Magnuson, Stew (3 November 2021). "U.K.'s Tempest Jet Fighter Program Embraces 'Digital Revolution'". National Defense Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  6. ^ Taylor, Trevor (November 2000). "Gambling Responsibly and the UK Tempest Programme: Experiences, Risks and Opportunities". Royal United Services Institute. Retrieved 28 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b "Combat Air Strategy: An ambitious vision for the future" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b "Britain to take leading role in next-generation air power, as Defence Secretary launches Combat Air Strategy". Ministry of Defence. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Davies, Rob (16 July 2018). "UK unveils new Tempest fighter jet to replace Typhoon". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Hoyle, Craig (July 2018). "Farnborough: Tempest concept underscores UK fighter ambitions". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Ellis, Cat (21 July 2018). "Inside Tempest – the fighter jet of the future". TechRadar. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Mizokami, Kyle (16 July 2018). "U.K. Introduces New Fighter Jet: The Tempest". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b "UK unveils new Tempest fighter jet model". BBC News. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  14. ^ IndraStra Global News Team (19 July 2018). "RAF Tempest — The Changing Dynamics of Cooperation". IndraStra. ISSN 2381-3652. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e Trevithick, Joseph (16 July 2018). "The U.K.'s New 'Tempest' Stealth Fighter Project Already Faces Serious Challenges". The Drive. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Hawker Tempest V Performance". WWII Aircraft Performance. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  17. ^ "UK in talks with Sweden over next-generation fighter jet". Financial Times. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  18. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan (2 August 2018). "Will Japan and the UK Collaborate on Sixth-Generation Tempest Future Fighter Aircraft?". The Diplomat.
  19. ^ Shukla, Ajai (8 February 2019). Written at New Delhi. "UK to invite India to co-develop sixth-generation fighter aircraft Tempest". Business Standard. India. OCLC 496280002. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  20. ^ a b Osborne, Tony (10 July 2020). "Export-Centric Tempest Has Global Ambitions For Partners". Aviation Week. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  21. ^ Robinson, Tim (17 September 2021). "Defence back on show - DSEI 2021 report". Royal Aeronautical Society. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  22. ^ Sprenger, Sebastian (19 July 2019). "Saab banks on Gripen upgrade in new UK-Sweden warplane alliance". Defense News. Cologne. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  23. ^ "UK and Sweden partner on future combat air". The UK government, MoD. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  24. ^ Holm, Kerstin (19 July 2019). "Sverige och Storbritannien i samarbete om nytt stridsflyg" [Sweden and Great Britain in collaboration on new fighter aircraft]. Sveriges Television (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  25. ^ a b Jennings, Gareth (11 September 2019). "DSEI 2019: Italy joins Tempest". Jane's 360. London. Archived from the original on 11 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  26. ^ "L'Italia sceglie il "Tempest", il caccia di sesta generazione che sostituirà gli Eurofighter Typhoon" [Italy chooses the "Tempest", the sixth generation fighter that will replace the Eurofighter Typhoon.]. AeroStoria (in Italian). Archived from the original on 27 June 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  27. ^ "UK and Italian industry to partner on Tempest". BAE Systems. London. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  28. ^ a b "International industry collaboration on future combat air capability". BAE Systems. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  29. ^ Jennings, Gareth (20 July 2020). "Sweden firms up FCAS partnership with UK, but no commitment to Tempest". Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  30. ^ Allison, George (29 July 2021). "British 'Tempest' combat jet project gets more funding". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  31. ^ Kington, Tom (5 August 2021). "Italy hikes 2021 defense spending, finds cash for Tempest". Defense News. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  32. ^ Kington, Tom (26 July 2022). "Tempest program, Russian invasion drive growth in Italy's defense budget". Defense News.
  33. ^ Newdick, Thomas (22 December 2021). "United Kingdom Details Plans To Build Future Fighter Jet Engine With Japan". The Drive.
  34. ^ "UK and Japan to work together on world-leading fighter jet sensor". GOV.UK. 15 February 2022. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  35. ^ "UK and Japan to work together on world-leading fighter jet sensor". GOV.UK. 18 July 2022. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  36. ^ "UK builds momentum on combat air programme with demonstrator set to fly within five years". GOV.UK. 18 July 2022. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  37. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan (28 March 2017). "Japan and UK to Collaborate on Advanced Stealth Fighter Jet". The Diplomat. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  38. ^ "Japan, U.K. to develop common airframe for next-gen fighters". The Japan News. Yomiuri Shimbun. 14 August 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  39. ^ "UK, Italy and Japan team up for new fighter jet". BBC. 9 December 2022. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  40. ^ a b c "UK military aircraft technology". BAE Systems. Archived from the original on 16 July 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  41. ^ "Tempest drives forward as Leonardo unveils new radar sensing technology". Leonardo (Press release). Rome. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  42. ^ Hoyle, Craig (23 August 2020). "Tempest wind tunnel testing shows design detail". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  43. ^ Pocock, Chris (8 November 2021). "Storm Warning Comes from UK in Form of Project Tempest". Aviation International News. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
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  45. ^ "A mind-reading combat jet for the future". BBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  46. ^ "UK's next-gen fighter jet has a groundbreaking 'mind-reading' helmet". 26 July 2022.

External linksEdit

Tempest at the RAF