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UK welcomes US participation in Tempest fighter jet concept

08 August 2018
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that he welcomes US participation in developing the Tempest fighter jet, a model of which, shown above, was displayed at the Farnborough International Airshow 2018. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

The United Kingdom plans to work closely with US industry as it develops its next-generation Tempest fighter jet concept, according to the UK defence secretary.

“We have a great tradition at producing the best fighters in the world and we have a great tradition of having that national sovereign capability, and we are never going to be wanting to surrender that,” Gavin Williamson told an audience on 7 August at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington. “In terms of actually working with international partners, we’re very open to it.”

Williamson announced the Tempest concept in mid-July at the UK Farnborough International Airshow. The Tempest team currently comprises BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA, and Rolls-Royce. The United Kingdom wants a Tempest business case by the end of the year, a final investment decision by 2025, and the aircraft flying by 2035.

The United States is home to leading fighter jet companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Lockheed Martin is developing the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), developed the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor, and supports the F-16 Fighting Falcon while Boeing supports the F-15 Eagle. The United Kingdom is a partner on the F-35 programme.

There is already international interest in Tempest. Japan has approached the United Kingdom about participating, having had an “exchange of opinions” about the possibility of a joint air combat project. Japan is looking to replace its Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Mitsubishi F-2 fighters.

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