Futuristic Tempest is far more than just an aircraft for thousands of Lancashire employees

The future of combat aircraft is here - and being created by engineers and boffins from BAE Systems in the heart of Lancashire.

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 7:00 am

It is predicted the Tempest programme will support an average of 20,000 jobs every year from 2026 to 2050 and generate billions for the economy.

Tempest will eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon used by the RAF and other nations.

But, even though Team Tempest has unveiled a futuristic prototype of the new plane, BAE Systems says nothing should be taken for granted. Michael Christie, Director of Future Combat Air Systems at BAE Systems, said: “It has come a long way since the concept model was unveiled in 2018.

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The new Tempest project carries the job hopes of thousands for the next 25 years

“It may not look like that in the end. Tempest is a system, both manned and unmanned.”

Mr Christie said the key to combat aircraft was information gathering, using it and acting on it.

BAE Systems is playing a key role in the programme at its Warton and Samlesbury sites. It is working with Leonardo UK, MBDA, Rolls-Royce and the RAF, along with hundreds of high-tech companies, SMEs and academia across the UK.

There are currently 1,800 people employed on Team Tempest across UK industry and the MOD, a number that is set to increase to 2,500 next year.

The new radar system being developed for future aircraft such as Tempest can gather a huge amount of information about the battle area

Around 650 people are already working on Tempest in Lancashire. The Tempest programme is predicted to contribute at least £25.3bn to the UK economy in the first 30 years alone.

Mr Christie said: “Tempest is an exciting and ambitious multi-decade programme that will help to preserve our national security whilst at the same time driving significant economic benefits for the UK.

“The initial analysis revealed today demonstrates that Tempest is critical to ensuring the UK can sustain its world-leading Combat Air Sector, preserving the sovereign capability that is essential to retaining military freedom of action for the UK.”

It has been revealed that futuristic radar for the Tempest, due in service by 2035, will capture the equivalent of a ‘city’s worth of data’ every second. The technology delivers unparalleled data processing capability on the battle space, equivalent to nine hours of HD video or the internet traffic of a large city every second.

The new sensor, called the‘Multi-Function Radio Frequency System’, will deliver a huge volume of information, processed on-board, to give Tempest a battle-winning edge in combat situations, with the ability to locate and target enemies well before they are targeted themselves.

The new sensor will provide a wide range of abilities beyond traditional radar, with all-digital technology providing the operator with an exceptionally clear view of the battle space and of potential targets.

Leonardo has already built complete sub-systems using the new technology and successfully tested them at the company’s site in Edinburgh.

Iain Bancroft, director of major air programmes at Leonardo in the UK, said: “The collaborative relationship between Team Tempest and our network of academic and SME partners enables us to bring together the ‘best of the best’ engineering talent from across the UK.

"Crucially, we are embracing new ways of working as an integrated team to dramatically improve efficiency and pace – sharing intelligence and refining our concepts digitally to deliver innovations that will shape the next generation combat air system."