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Initial flight trials demonstrate Excalibur FTA ‘fit for purpose‘, says Leonardo

Seen after being delivered to 2Excel's facility in Lasham, Hampshire, in 2023, the 757 airframe that is to be converted into the Excalibur FTA made its first flight from MoD Boscombe Down. (Leonardo)

Initial flight trials of the 757 airframe that is to be converted to the Excalibur Flight Test Aircraft (FTA) project to de-risk the Tempest future fighter have shown it to be “fit for purpose”, an official from Leonardo told Janes .

Speaking at a UK industry showcase event for the future combat air power, including the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) of which the Tempest demonstrator is a part, Dave Morris, head of campaigns Future Combat Air – GCAP at Leonardo, said the first round of flight trials out of Ministry of Defence (MoD) Boscombe Down in southern England had gone well and that there should be no issues ahead of fitting aircraft with its Tempest mission equipment.

“The first flight happened at Boscombe Down a couple of months ago. It is still in its initial flight tests, but it has shown us that it is up to the job and fit for purpose – everything has gone fine with it,” Morris said at the event being held at the home of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London on 24 April. “2Excel [which conducted an engineering study into the 757 airframe to understand its construction in-depth] has done a great job!”

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