BAE Systems Tempest


Team tempest.jpg
BAE Systems conceptual illustration
Role Sixth-generation jet fighter
National origin United Kingdom[1][2][3]
Introduction Planned for 2035
Status Under development

The BAE Systems Tempest[4] is a proposed fighter aircraft concept that is under development in the United Kingdom for the British Royal Air Force, Swedish Air Force[5] and the Italian Air Force (AMI).[6][7] It is being developed under the Future Combat Air System (UK) programme by a consortium known as "Team Tempest",[8] consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo S.p.A. and MBDA. The aircraft is intended to enter service from 2035 replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in service with the RAF and AMI and the JAS 39 Gripen in Swedish service. Two billion pounds will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025.[9]


In July 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) published its Combat Air Strategy. The key elements of this are:[10][11]

  • Continued development of the Typhoon.
  • Implement the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative, established by the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
  • Study of Typhoon replacement programmes.
  • "Build on or establish new [international] partnerships to deliver future requirements."
  • Focus on affordability.

The document describes combat air as "An aircraft, manned or unmanned, whose prime function is to conduct air-to-air and/or air-to-surface combat operations in a hostile and/or contested environment, whilst having the ability to concurrently conduct surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and command and control tasks."[11]

On 16 July 2018, the then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson introduced the Tempest programme at the Farnborough Airshow as part of the Combat Air Strategy.[12] It will be a sixth-generation jet fighter incorporating several new technologies, swarming drones, directed-energy weapons and hypersonic weapons.[13] The RAF's Second World War Hawker Tempest fighter also followed a Typhoon.[14]

On 19 July 2019, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore ways of jointly developing sixth-generation air combat technologies.[15] Italy announced its involvement in Team Tempest on 10 September 2019, during DSEI 2019.[16] The Statement of Intent was signed between the UK participant bodies and Italian participant companies (Leonardo Italy, Elettronica, Avio Aero and MBDA Italy).[17] This was confirmed by the signing of a trilateral MoU by Italy, Sweden and the UK on 21 December 2020, "defining general principles for co-operation on an equal basis between the three countries".[18] In 2019, India and Japan were also invited to join the project.[19][20]

At the virtual Farnborough Airshow in July 2020, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced seven new companies were joining the Team Tempest consortium: GEUK, GKN, Collins Aerospace, Martin Baker, QinetiQ, Bombardier in Belfast (now Spirit Aerosystems) and Thales UK, along with UK universities and SMEs. Together the companies will develop more than 60 technology prototypes and demonstration activities. So far the programme has employed 1,800 and is expected to increase to 2,500 by 2021.[21] Also announced was an initial investment of £50m in the project by Saab and the opening of a Future Combat Air Systems centre in the UK.[22]

On 29 July 2021, the project moved into the Concept and Assessment phase, with BAE Systems being awarded a £250 million contract to advance the design.[23] In August 2021 Italy announced its intention to invest €2 billion by 2035 starting with a €20 million contribution in 2021.[24]

In September 2021, a model of a modified Boeing 757 airliner, named the Excalibur, was showcased at DSEI 2021. Excalibur will be used as a test bed for Tempest's avionics and sensors and will be converted from an airliner by 2Excel. According to the Royal Aeronautical Society, the aircraft will be the only stealth fighter testbed outside the United States.[25]


A mock-up of the Tempest in 2019

Tempest will be able to fly unmanned, and use swarming technology to control drones. It will incorporate artificial intelligence deep learning and carry directed-energy weapons.[26][27] The aircraft will have a Cooperative Engagement Capability which is the ability to share data and messages with other aircraft and coordinate actions.[13] Tempest will feature an adaptive cycle engine and a virtual cockpit shown on a pilot's helmet-mounted display.[28] A generator that delivers "unprecedented levels" of electrical power has also been developed for the aircraft.[21]

The aircraft has a slightly raised rear fuselage section, to accommodate “S-shaped” ducting behind its twin engine inlets, to reduce its frontal radar cross section.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "Team Tempest". RAF.
  2. ^ "UK and Italian industry partnership". BAE Systems | International.
  3. ^ Chuter, Andrew (July 7, 2019). "Sweden to join British 'Tempest' next-gen fighter push". Defense News.
  4. ^ "Inside Tempest – the fighter jet of the future". Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  5. ^ Saab siktar på stridsflyg – kan bli nya Gripen [Saab aims for new fighter - can become new Gripen] (in Swedish),, retrieved 26 September 2021
  6. ^ L'Italia sceglie il "Tempest", il caccia di sesta generazione che sostituirà gli Eurofighter Typhoon. [Italy chooses the "Tempest", the sixth generation fighter that will replace the Eurofighter Typhoon.] (in Italian),, retrieved 23 September 2019
  7. ^ Sprenger, Sebastian (2019-09-10). "Italy joins Britain's Tempest combat aircraft program". Defense News. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  8. ^ IndraStra Global News Team (19 July 2018). "RAF Tempest — The Changing Dynamics of Cooperation". IndraStra.
  9. ^ "UK unveils new Tempest fighter jet model". BBC News. 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  10. ^ Taylor, Trevor (November 2000). "Gambling Responsibly and the UK Tempest Programme: Experiences, Risks and Opportunities" (PDF). Royal United Services Institute. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  11. ^ a b "Combat Air Strategy: An ambitious vision for the future" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  12. ^ "Britain to take leading role in next-generation air power, as Defence Secretary launches Combat Air Strategy". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  13. ^ a b "U.K. Introduces New Fighter Jet: The Tempest". 16 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Hawker Tempest V Performance". WWII Aircraft Performance. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Saab banks on Gripen upgrade in new UK-Sweden warplane alliance". Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  16. ^ Jennings, Gareth (12 September 2019). "DSEI 2019: Italy joins Tempest". Jane's 360. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  17. ^ "UK and Italian industry to partner on Tempest". BAE Systems. 2019-09-11.
  18. ^ "Italy, UK and Sweden sign MoU on development of Tempest". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  19. ^ Shukla, Ajai (2019-02-08). "UK to invite India to co-develop sixth-generation fighter aircraft Tempest". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  20. ^ Chuter, Andrew (2020-07-20). "British next-generation fighter program taps new suppliers". Defense News. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  21. ^ a b "New industry leaders partner with Team Tempest to deliver next generation combat aircraft". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  22. ^ "International industry collaboration on future combat air capability". BAE Systems | International.
  23. ^ Allison, George (2021-07-29). "British 'Tempest' combat jet project gets more funding". Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  24. ^ Kington, Tom (2021-08-05). "Italy hikes 2021 defense spending, finds cash for Tempest". Defense News. Retrieved 2021-08-06.
  25. ^ Robinson, Tim (17 September 2021). "Defence back on show - DSEI 2021 report". Royal Aeronautical Society. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  26. ^ "UK unveils new Tempest fighter jet to replace Typhoon", The Guardian
  27. ^ UK military aircraft technology BAE Systems
  28. ^ Farnborough: Tempest concept underscores UK fighter ambitions Flight Global
  29. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "Tempest windtunnel testing shows design detail". Flight Global. Retrieved 2020-08-25.