Multi-million pound Tempest funding set to advance the UK’s future Combat Air Capability

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded a contract worth approximately £250m to progress the design and development of Tempest, the UK’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The contract, signed by BAE Systems, officially marks the start of the programme’s concept and assessment phase. 

The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest, the combined expertise of MBDA UK, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and the UK MOD. Working with international partners, the team is leading progress towards a UK-led, internationally collaborative, Future Combat Air System that will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies retain world-leading, independent military capability.

The concept and assessment phase contract will see the partners develop a range of digital concepts, embedding new tools and techniques to design, evaluate and shape the final design and capability requirements of Tempest.

Continued funding of Tempest underlines the UK Government’s confidence in the progress and maturity of the programme, which is set to deliver the military, industrial and economic requirements of the national combat air strategy.

Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence, said:

“Today’s news is a momentous step towards designing and building a new combat air system which will boost our already world-leading industry and ultimately keep us safe for the rest of the century. The contract I’ve announced today spearheads a £2bn investment over four years and will see thousands of jobs sustained right across the UK.

“We will now be getting to work with our partners to get the concept right and get this incredibly exciting and ambitious project off the ground. Make no mistake: we are remaining at the top table when it comes to combat air.”

Mike Mew, MBDA UK’s Director for Sales and Business Development, and the company’s senior responsible officer for Team Tempest, added:

“The funding announced today is a critical milestone for the Tempest programme, and its future represent one of the most exciting periods in the history of our industry.

“As the Effects Domain lead in Team Tempest our role is to fully optimise the FCAS to operate both existing & future weapons. This contract demonstrates the importance of addressing this during the earliest phases of development, and our bold transformation to a digital first approach is delivering a step change in the time, complexity and cost of weapon systems integration.

“Together with our Team Tempest industry partners and the Ministry of Defence, this next phase will see us continue to transform the way we deliver, as well as define the technical and capability requirements to develop a concept that will bring Tempest to life.

 “We are on track to deliver an ambitious programme that will deliver a highly advanced and sophisticated air defence capability, capable of countering future threats and safeguarding national security and defence.

“Not only that, the contract also means Tempest continues to offer an exciting opportunity to develop rewarding careers for the next generation of talent, and a chance for that generation to be part of something genuinely historic.”

Digital development

Tempest will pioneer cutting-edge technologies, including those assisted by Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and autonomous systems to meet the capability requirements of future conflicts and be operational in the mid-2030s.

The design and production of Tempest demands a radically different approach and the Team Tempest partners are working with companies in their supply chain to drive digital transformation, embedding a digital enterprise through the ecosystem; embracing an agile approach that will deliver a combination of advanced technologies, efficiency, speed of production and lower costs.

Economic Contribution

Recent research conducted by PwC underlines how the Tempest programme is expected to deliver significant and wide-ranging benefits to all regions of the UK, stimulating vital investment, productivity, skills and innovation. The programme will make an estimated £26.2bn contribution to the UK economy, create high productivity employment – 78% higher than the UK national average – and will support an average of 21,000 jobs a year.

The programme is able to stimulate R&D in regions most in need and generate wider economic benefits for these areas, with 70% of the programme’s value to be generated in the North West, South West and East of England. This means the Tempest programme is well placed to support the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery and prosperity in the decades ahead.

Rewarding careers

Are you passionate about Tempest, the defence world and advanced technology? Would you like to develop your skills in a highly challenging environment? Do you want to work with dynamic people within an integrated international team? If so, find out more about MBDA UK’s rewarding careers here

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