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Farnborough 2022: UK launches Tempest flight demonstrator effort

A conceptual model of the Tempest future fighter was showcased at the Farnborough Airshow, from where a flying demonstrator programme was officially launched. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and industry partnership responsible for delivering the Tempest future fighter element of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) announced the launch of the flight demonstrator phase of the project at the Farnborough Airshow.

The UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, along with senior Team Tempest representatives from the MoD and the four primary industry partners – BAE Systems, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce, and MBDA – made the announcement on the opening day of the show on 18 July.

“There will be a supersonic manned flying demonstrator in the next five years,” Richard Berthon, director of FCAS at the MoD, said, with industry officials noting that the digital design models for the Tempest have flown “hundreds of hours” in the virtual environment, paving the way for the demonstrator to validate the data so far collected.

In announcing the flight-test demonstrator, Berthon noted that a concept analysis was being launched at the same time with Italy and Japan. “We are looking at our respective military requirements, and we are looking at potential alignments in our industrial bases. [We will] make our decisions later on in the year,” he said. Sweden is partnering on FCAS only.

“The last time the UK did this was 40 years ago [with the Experimental Aircraft Programme precursor to the Eurofighter],” Michael Christie, head of FCAS at BAE Systems said. “We are going from the fourth to the sixth generation, and leapfrogging the fifth generation.”

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