Boeing has expressed interest in becoming part of ‘Team Tempest’, the effort to deliver a new British fighter jet.

Leanne Caret, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, told Reuters in an interview at the Farnborough Airshow this week that Boeing was watching the situation but that it was premature to make more definitive statements.

“They are still going through own defence reviews and understanding where they’re going. If there is an opportunity where the Boeing Company can participate and play, we will be absolutely honoured and thrilled to be part of that journey.”

The result of ‘Project Tempest’ is expected to complement the F-35 and eventually replace Typhoon.

Team Tempest Future Combat Air System concept.

It is understood that £2 billion in initial funding will be set out to oversee the design and build of the aircraft concept, which will be operational in 2035. The project is a joint venture between BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, MBDA UK Ltd and Leonardo.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said as he also launched the UK’s new Combat Air Strategy:

“We have been a world leader in the combat air sector for a century, with an enviable array of skills and technology, and this Strategy makes clear that we are determined to make sure it stays that way. It shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future – and this concept model is just a glimpse into what the future could look like.

British defence industry is a huge contributor to UK prosperity, creating thousands of jobs in a thriving advanced manufacturing sector, and generating a UK sovereign capability that is the best in the world.

Today’s news leaves industry, our military, the country, and our allies in no doubt that the UK will be flying high in the combat air sector as we move into the next generation.”

The concept aircraft design, say the MoD, was put together by British firms including BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, which have joined together with the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office to form ‘Team Tempest’ to pursue the opportunity.

The four key technology areas the partners will be responsible for are: advanced combat air systems and integration (BAE Systems); advanced power and propulsion systems (Rolls-Royce); advanced sensors, electronics and avionics (Leonardo) and advanced weapon systems (MBDA).

An official computer generated image of Tempest from the Combat Air Strategy.

The MoD will now set up a dedicated team to deliver the combat air acquisition programme. They will deliver a business case by the end of the year, and have initial conclusions on international partners by next summer – with engagement with potential partners beginning immediately.

Early decisions around how to acquire the capability will be confirmed by the end of 2020, before final investment decisions are made by 2025. The aim is then for a next generation platform to have operational capability by 2035. The Government say that F-35 Lightning II and the Typhoon are two complementary multi-role combat aircraft that will make up the RAF’s combat air fleet, “placing the UK at the forefront of combat air technology” – with the Typhoon expected to remain in UK service until at least 2040.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said:

“The Combat Air Strategy will bring together the best of our people, industry and international partners to support the RAF lift-off into the next century of air power. Team Tempest demonstrates our commitment in ensuring that we continue to build our capabilities, draw upon our experience and history to bring forward a compelling vision for the next generation fighter jet. In last 100 years, the RAF has led the way and today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of what lies ahead.”

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive of BAE Systems, said:

“The UK’s combat air capability, built by generations of committed and highly skilled people through a century long partnership between the RAF and industry, is admired the world over. The UK Government’s Combat Air Strategy is a powerful statement of intent to invest in next generation combat air systems. We’re proud to play a key role in this important programme, with our world leading technology, capability and skills, which will contribute to the UK’s defence and prosperity for decades to come.”

Warren East, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce, said:

“As the UK’s long-term power and propulsion partner, we warmly welcome the Government’s announcement of a Combat Air Strategy. The UK’s capability in combat air power and propulsion is at a critical point and this long-term commitment from Government will allow us to protect the expertise and key skills that are vital to retaining sovereign capability. It ensures that we are able to develop and deliver the advanced technologies that will be required in future combat air systems to help ensure our national security.”

Copyright BAE Systems.

Norman Bone, Chairman and Managing Director of Leonardo in the UK, said:

“As Britain’s national champion for advanced defence electronics, we are proud to be a part of Team Tempest. Work we have conducted under research and development programmes such as FOAS and FCAS has significantly advanced our thinking with regards to the complex electronics required for future air combat scenarios and we stand ready to support the future needs of the Royal Air Force. We are excited about the work that’s already been done, and the work still to do, on the FCAS TI programme and are all set for these activities to feed into the Typhoon successor programme.”

Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, said:

“MBDA is proud to be providing its complex weapons expertise to the Team Tempest partnership. Delivering effects is central to next generation combat air systems, and we will continue to invest in developing our world leading complex weapons and novel technologies to ensure the UK retains sovereign operational advantage and freedom of action in Combat Air.

The strong partnership (through the Portfolio Management Agreement) between MBDA and the MoD has already changed the paradigm for complex weapons developments in the UK, delivered world leading capabilities to the UK Armed Forces and provided savings in terms of both time and money. The Team Tempest partnership has the potential to do the same for Combat Air.”


  1. The last time the French and German built a jet as the same time as the Brits, it was between the Alpha jet and the Hawk.

    Lets hope the outcome this time is similar.

  2. (Chris H) Thanks Boeing – Ante up some £2.3 Bn and order 140 like we did for the F-35 and you can be a Tier One Partner like we are with LM. You can build the Port Wing. But we still build the aircraft here and in Italy … sorry

    • Hi Chris,

      I personally think that it would be a very good idea to partner up to build a next gen fighter – I would also suggest that it be one developed, built, exported solely for use by the UK, U.S., Oz, and the Canucks (the Kiwis as well but I doubt they would want it). There would be several variants (I’m not sure this design could go VSTOL) that could be built in their respective countries using many common components. (Disclaimer – I’ve had dealings with Boeing and yes – they can be a bunch of male lower anatomical members – I’m not a fan)

      I fully agree with you that there must be equity in the process and if the UK had the lead, then it should be the senior partner. It might be pie in the sky I’m spouting here but my position has always been that our countries must band together even more closely than in the past due to what I believe will be truly national survival threatening challenges in the international system coming much sooner than later IMHO.

      As the current system breaks down (ever more rapidly) the new blocs evolving are all centered on one major power – China, the U.S., Russia, Germany… The Anglo Bloc is naturally centered on the U.S. but we also have the best of everything at our disposal – The natural resources of the U.S. and Oz, U.S Energy independence, British and American technology leadership, massive economies and financial systems, a common language and basic culture etc. We are truly blessed here with poll position.

      We should do what’s best for our countries as much as possible but still recognize that – as Benjamin Franklin succinctly put it to the Continental Congress – “We must hang together or we shall most assuredly hang separately”. Just by virtue of our sheer size and gravitational pull the U.S. will often be in the driver’s seat but that doesn’t mean that all involved can’t benefit greatly through cooperation and common goals for our nations. Remember, the “Redcoats” dictated the global terms for the longest time as well!

      Cheers and Happy Friday!

      • I failed to include Canada in my list of assets. Sorry! Natural resources, energy, and a fine high tech and aviation base are among their many strong suites…


        • There needs to be a like button on this forum… I couldn’t agree more.

          It’d be even better if we had any politicians (of any flavour) that could carry through with such an aspirational plan.

          The brexit negotiations have demonstrated that the Europeans, particularly the French, German and Spanish, are not our friends. (For the record, i voted remain but I accept the referendum result and now hope for the best outcome possible) I for one hope that we refrain from entering into any major new defence collaborations with them.

          We must continue to renew ties with with our cousins in the Anglosphere for all the reasons you outlined. I only hope our politicians have the same clarity of vision.

      • I have to say I do agree on the way geopolitics is going and I think the English speaking democracies do need to start thinking more in terms of a clear shared interest that could be a sort of English speaking first club, it’s a bit more right wing than I prefer but it seems to be the way geopolitics is going.

        The problem is:
        1) the US does historically have a tendency to serious fits of total introversion and or every so often spells of anglophobia.
        2) The UK is massively bound both economically, legally and geographically to Europe, even if we dearly wish we could up sticks and float somewhere else ( I’m betting most people would go for parking next door to Newzeland, for the temperate weather, holiday opportunities to another couple of English speaking nations with great mountains and beaches and trade).
        3) Auz is basically stuck at the arse end of the globe.
        4) Most other English speaking nations tend to be little bitty places all over the globe.
        5) Canada is lovely but has a split personality issue.

        • Hi Jonathan,

          1). Guilty as charged, However, it doesn’t hurt tohave the biggest kid on the block in your corner (usually…).

          2). The old hack of “Britain is not Europe” still applies here (even more now). WE didn’t fight two major wars together for the UK to still end up under the German boot…

          3). What better than to have far flung but very substantial outposts covering the globe (worked for the Empire). Sort of the “Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier” thing…

          4) Agreed, for the purposes of a long range alliances, common goals and strategy the UK, U.S.,Oz, Canada, and the Kiwis are the primary actors here. Between us though, we own a lot of very desirable “bitty” places in very strategic spots… (like Pitcairn Island) 😀

          5). “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries English Knighitts!” Huh? What? Tea anyone?



          • Hi David,

            “It’s a magical land far far away over the rainbow where wishes, dreams, and apparently renegade gravity defying bluebirds live….” Ooops – terribly sorry… “Oz” is shorthand for “Auzstralier” (sic) Dictated by the cultural specific accent riff on the Queen’s English developed by the party animals “Down Under”… My head STILL hurts when I recall a couple of episodes in “Oz’… 😀 Finer folks you won’t meet though…


        • I would love to see the Anglosphere bounding together, and creating a new block to rival the EU is a great idea, I don’t know as far as a federations, but close.
          However the US is so large it deserves to stay its own separate entity, so I would like to see a world where the likes of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK (others countries like jamaica as well I’m sure) are joined as one, as they used to be, and they work side by side with the US, but the US should not be included, it is very different from the rest of the Anglosphere, besides the US would just dictate and control the rest, just by ourselves theirs a chance for equal cooperation( although it’s likely the UK would take on the leadership role).
          This is never gonna happen, too much blocking it, but if our countries are gonna have a say in this new world with new big block countries and state on state rivalry, then this is what is gonna need to happen.

          • “However the US is so large it deserves to stay its own separate entity, so I would like to see a world where the likes of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK (others countries like jamaica as well I’m sure) are joined as one, as they used to be, and they work side by side with the US, but the US should not be included”

            Hi Keith,

            Unfortunately I don’t think we have the luxury even with the size of the U.S. economy. Just like the corporate world it’s soon to become “merge or die”… Also, I believe membership in an exclusive Anglocentric bloc should be based solely on what that nation brings to the table in terms of the contributions it can make – economically, militarily, and resource wise. No free riders… The members MUST pull their own weight and contribute substantially to the common cause…


    • We don’t want itar parts if we have itar to deal with the cost will go up exponential and at least double the base cost. No thanks I don’t want to have to deal with it

  3. I seem to be reading more and more about new and various means of overcoming stealth with sufficient accuracy to get a target lock on such aircraft.

    Since we are looking post 2030 it would seem to me that the edge stealth gives us will be largely eroded by then. This being the case I would have thought speed, agility and electronic warfare would be as important if not more so than they ever have been.

    I dearly hope that we are not proposing yesterday’s solution to tomorrow’s problem. I’m certainly not saying we abandon stealth – why make things easy. But I hope we are not going to compromise speed and agility for “sexy stealth”.

    • Stealth is not a single thing. There are technologies that are starting to be able to target the current some stealth aircraft. Stealth is a moving target though and we are getting better at making things more stealthy. For instance something that can target the F117 is probably not likely to be able to target the F35.

    • Stealth will still apply. The last thing you’d want is your latest and greatest jet to be blasted from the sky by a 50 year old anti aircraft battery. Reducing heat signature by cooling the skin would help defeat or harden against lasers. I see this as a 6th Gen must have.

      • The anti aircraft battery can be 50 years old if the radar is brand new, and as the radar technology has increased better and faster (and cheaper), the stealth figthers will be dead.

        Just do the math.

  4. I’d like to see this happen. But i’d also like to see an aircraft designed, built, and delivered on schedule for the price that was originally agreed.

    I work in Projects and if we ever said hey Project “A” will cost £100,000 and then midway through the project we say, sorry actually Project “A” will cost £200,000 due to miscalculations or problems with suppliers etc. I can guarantee people would lose their jobs, starting with the people who are mismanaging it.

    Can it be built with proven off the shelf parts? We are a nation that innovates, so lets use off the shelf parts and innovate!!

  5. Just had a thought, now I know everyone is saying that off bore sight BVR is the way forward and dogfighting is well for the dogs…. But if by the 2030s all our peers are flying around in fifth gen stealth fighters wont that sort of make all the BVR combat concepts a bit early 21 century ( or only useful for beating on third world powers) and what you therefore will really need later this century will be the best stealthed dogfighter you can get you grubbies on ?

  6. I’m sorry but I think we should be keeping all the big American companies well away from this. American corporations are so aggressive and in for themselves that they will end up taking over and leave us as a minor partner. Let’s do this OURSELVES with a little help from outside companies that will be happy to be a small part and not want major job share and take all the profits with them.

    • Agree Boeing especially benefits from UK taxpayers and we don’t get much reciprocal trade.The idea of being linked closer to US run by Trump is not appealing to me, I hope Italy and Sweden join but suspect the EU flag will be waived under their noses until they comply with France.

          • We will need partners this a fact, how that works out we will see, but I just don’t think we are in a position to reject American input out of hand as much as we need to remain wary.

            The biggest advantage in Boeing in particular over other US companies is the fact that they have long wanted to expand their military side and have been for the most part thwarted by the US Govt as much For tactical as technical reasons so as to support more military reliant companies. So that frustration expecially after considerable investment in the sector not only explains Boeings early overtures but just might mean that a meaningful cooperative partnership just might be possible and certainly worth exploring at this stage. Whether the US government will be willing to allow them to contribute in a meaningful way rather than as an obstructive and fact finding mission is another matter of course.

  7. Perhaps the greatest challenge in the entire project is going to be choosing the right international partners. Get it wrong and the project may run significantly over budget and timescale, or worse totally fail. Get it right and the project stays much closer to budget and planned delivery with enough volume to be commercially viable. It is good that the project is attempting to de-risk from the outset by leveraging components from continuous development of Typhoon.

    As a hypothetical consider partnership with one or more of Boeing, Northrup or Lockheed. These companies have a lot of state-of-the-art knowledge, especially Northrup and Lockheed wrt stealth and modern military aircraft, so on the face of it good technical partners. But they bring some baggage too. The US military industrial complex seems almost incapable of efficient and cost effective project management. They wouldn’t manage Tempest but how well would they work in a more rigorous project environment? This is a critical assessment for any partner of course. However, there are more critical elements beyond their historyon project execution.

    Any or all of these companies might see Tempest as a candidate for US replacement of F-22. In that case they would want to see specifications that would be likely to meet US DoD potential reqs, which might be at odds with UK primary specs causing delay in an attempt to reconcile. Or they would want to take knowledge from Tempest to develop their own proposal for F-22 replacement, which itself might then be a future competitor to Tempest. Or the US DoD might release specifications for a US project that conflict with Tempest causing US participant withdrawal. Or in Lockheed’s case simply get involved to act as a spoiler in order to sell more F-35. Or USA Inc. decides it doesn’t want to have Tempest be successful as a competitor to its aviation industry and takes actions to undermine it.

    Too paranoid? I’m not so sure given that we seem to have seen examples of most if not all of these scenarios either from the US or other partners in the past. One less obvious example comes to mind. Rolls Royce and the F-35, where the UK might have reasonably expected the option for an RR engine when it committed to the program with RR sharing in international sales and perhaps also financial returns from GE US domestic sales. DoD refusing to further fund development of the F136, well into both the F-35 program as well as the F136 engine development, gave the UK no choice or leverage. More importantly it ensured sole source status for potentially 4,000 airframes for Pratt and Whitney. This burned GE too but from a USA Inc and especially P&W perspective it significantly undermines RR in fighter jet aviation supply for the future which could in turn undermine RR commercial engine competitiveness, hence Tempest.

    What’s that saying – “You’re only paranoid if no ones out to get you” or “Only the paranoid survive”

  8. I would regard US participation with a great deal of scepticism….

    Either on a company or government basis, any US content gives them the right to veto a potential sale.

    This project gathering momentum will be viewed as a direct threat to future F35 sales.

    Should this (and I really hope it does) lead to a multi national ‘Tempest Consortium Ltd’ being formed and a production contract being signed, you can expect a very serious effort to kill Tempest off, this would be achieved by heavily subsidised, knock down price advanced F35 offered to key partners, to collapse the Tempest program.

    The US is becoming increasingly isolationist and (should Trump and his like continue) they will protect their military aircraft industry in a very robust and assertive fashion.

    The Americans are key allies an protectors of the free world, but they won’t tolerate anything that damages their world leading, technologically advanced, military industrial complex.

    • Agree, and expressed more succinctly than my ramble above. Large corporations and particularly US corporations seem to be operating in a default mode of anti-competitive behavior across all aspects of business and services. Any fines are so small in comparison to the potential gains that they might as well be part of the marketing budget.

      Boeing’s example against Bombardier, supported by the US Executive branch in the form of the US Commerce Department, is a very clear case in point of USA Inc. in action.

      • Both your examples, Boeing v Bombardier and the F135 – F136 sum the issue up perfectly.

        Plus the A330 MTT that was de-selected in favour of Boeing and the presidential Merlin helicopter, binned in favour of Sikorsky.

        These examples show the levels the US Government will go to to protect domestic industry,

        The F136 at least gave RR another research route into advanced propulsion systems and it showed enormous promise, an engine a generation ahead of the F135.

        Uncle Sam has happily put the boot into UKPLC, as a more than a few of the above examples show.

        So why the hell would we let them into team Tempest?

        • For 1 very large and omnipresent reason $$$$$ the DOD has it and the MOD does not.
          As for Boeing vs Bombardier, it was Bombardier who shouted to the Canadian Government first and received subsidies. Then expected Boeing to not call their congressman. Then it was Trudeau who thought it was a good idea to attempt to blackmail Boeing over it’s military department in order to get a concession from it’s civil aviation department. Not a bright negotiating tactic when he had had already spent the weeks after Election Day talking about how much morally superior he thought was to Trump. What did he expect Boeing to say “okay I’ll bend the knee to sell a few F18s, and still let you rip us off in the small jet market because you are “so” intimidating.” Small chance in hell. CEOs of major American companies didn’t get to be CEOs with that type of character.
          Anyone with a brain knew they were going to call the no less than 12 senators and 50 odd congressman from the districts whose jobs they support before they even hung up the phone. Because what Trudeau turned it into is a pissing contest. Whether he meant to or not, with him and bombardier on one side and the President, Commerce department, the assorted legislators and governors on the other.
          As for the Presidential helicopters remember when the program was taking place. The Kestrels (Merlin) took so long to be delivered that the housing crisis hit and the Wall Street bailout was underway. Nobody from then newly inaugurated President Obama to the Congress were going to spend billions of dollars on VIP transports. While simultaneously asking Americans whose neighbors homes were being foreclosed on to sign a blank check for bailouts and stimulus packages. So no fancy helicopters in the cards at the time.

          • On 28 April 2016, Bombardier Aerospace sold 75 CSeries CS100 firmly plus 50 options to Delta Air Lines. On 27 April 2017, Boeing filed a petition for dumping them at $19.6m each, below their $33.2m production cost.

            On 9 June 2017, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) found the US industry could be threatened. On 26 September, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) observed subsidies of 220% and will collect deposits based on these. It will add a 80% preliminary anti-dumping duty on top, resulting in a total duty of 300%. The DoC announced its final ruling, a total duty of 292%, on 20 December.

            On 10 January 2018, the Canadian government filed a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against the USA.

            On 26 January 2018, the USITC four commissioners unanimously determined the U.S. industry is not threatened and no duty orders will be issued, overturning the imposed duties.

            The Commission public report was made available by February 2018. On March 22, Boeing declined to appeal the ruling.

            … from Wikipedia

          • (Chris H) Elliott – Firstly the delays in the presidential Merlins were in the USA and the continual upgrading of whatever was going into the aircraft fitted by US firms. The aircraft were being delivered right on time from the UK and 9 were in the USA before Obama pulled the pin poking a middle digit up to the UK in the process. Canada bought them, are still using them and well pleased they are.

            As for your premise that it was cancelled because of a housing issue do please explain why they immediately replaced the ongoing programme that had already cost $ Bns with another that cost even more $ Bns. I doubt Sikorsky gave a flying one for those losing their homes. Oh by the way how many have been delivered? None.

            No the Merlin was, like the A330 MRTT, a perfect example of how US Incorporated muscles out any competition from abroad and hides this manipulation under the blanket of ‘National Security’. Boeing / Bombardier, Boeing / Airbus, Steel Tariffs etc etc They do not care if a) it costs more money like the Merlin / Sikorsky debacle or b) they deliver late and over budget an inferior aircraft like the KC-46 because its all about the DOLLARS ……

            Team Tempest must keep a courteous but firm distance from US Incorporated as partners but exploit any system / component purchasing. It won’t harm sales not to have the Yanks involved because they wouldn’t buy it from the UK anyway. The last aircraft the US bought from us was the Harrier I. The AV -8B and Goshawk being built in the USA as everything is.

            And guess what? We don’t need anything the USA would offer anyway and especially with the loss of leadership it would cost…. Thanks but no thanks.

          • A good counter argument effort Elliott. But you can’t get past the natural US tendency to dominate.

            The US will seek to kill the project if it progresses without a shade of doubt.

            For a start, F35 will settle into 40 years of continuous improvement and production.

            Tempest would represent next generation technology and a clear threat to the F35’s market dominance, right at the height of the F35’s peak export drive.

            While we all appreciate our Uncle Sam’s handouts, on this occasion he can keep his $’s.

            In my view there is one chance of the US buying a high end foreign design … And that is no chance!

            They haven’t bought one since the Canberra bomber back in the 1950’s.

            After all, the US airforce, wanted the A330 MRTT, a clearly superior aircraft to
            the Boeing design and selected, but Boeing had the hissy fit from hell and had it overturned.

            Thats for a humble fuel hauler … Never mind a cutting edge fighter design.

            Can you imagine the king of screaming froth in the mouth hissy fits by US manufacturers if that happened!

          • (Chris H) John Clark – And you Sir provided an even better effort in reply. The national and project costs of sharing with US Incorporated would be far too high given they can’t offer more than we have already.

            One gentle correction though – the last British built aircraft the USA bought was the Harrier 1 or AV – 8A / C as they termed it. Canberra was licence built by Martin just like the AV – 8B and Goshawk were licence built by Boeing

  9. Everyone’s talking of potential partners in the Tempest but one thing will stop this dead before negotiations get underway, the good old British government, Tory or Labour, will balk at the initial cost and bin it.

    • Perhaps but there are a lot of jobs tied directly and indirectly to the aerospace industry and virtually all of them will be skilled technology jobs in aeronautical, mechanical, electrical, electronic hardware and especially software and I’m sure I’m missing other skilled disciplines in that list. Not to mention the spin off of technology skills into other industries. Every economy is seeking these types of jobs, especially the UK’s. I suspect both major parties will be supportive of that regardless of other feelings about defence or budgets.

  10. In my opinion, we have many of the key technologies and skills to do this mostly ourselves, if not now, within the next 15 years. We have RR a world leader in engines, Bae seem to have innovative cockpit and battle management tech, we build wings and tail fins for several companies, we are leaders in radar, Cobham make ejector seats, Bae also have stealth and the aerodynamics aspect seemingly in hand having had previous experience.
    What is it exactly that we need a huge amount of help with? Surely we just need small partners to fill niche gaps. I want to see Tempest made in Britain with production lines for wings, airframes, engines etc and only certain components made abroad. We need to stump up the cash and then reap the industrial and financial rewards ourselves, not pass large parts of it to foreign companies with uncertain agendas.

    • I don’t disagree with you that the UK has all the capabilities required but I suspect it’s all about money.

      Essentially for projects like this the UK government is acting as a venture capitalist by funding product development prior to any sales revenue being generated in the hope that the returns will justify the initial investment. It’s slightly different to a VC in that the hoped-for returns arrive slightly more indirectly for HMG vs a VC, i.e. via GDP growth and corresponding tax receipts vs equity value and maybe dividends, and for military projects such as these the end product is hoped to be one that will provide a superior product that can be used by the investor itself, but the concept of having a finite pot of money to invest in such ventures remains.

      With that in mind a VC wouldn’t put all its eggs in too few baskets and would attempt to have a diversified range of investments so that all is not lost if some fail. I suspect that is the strategy at play here. The UK fully funding this project would use too much of its investment pot and be in danger of starving other projects (Skylon and SPEAR would be a couple in the defence field but there is also loads of other stuff being funded in pharma, materials science, renewable energy, computing, etc). I think HMG is probably trying to find the balance of commiting just enough to make sure the project gets to takeoff speed and relying on the extra needed to actually get it to fly coming from partners.

      When debating whether it would be better to have 100% UK funding to reap 100% UK rewards one must also consider the potential rewards forsaken were, for instance, 50% of the total project funding required used to kick start other UK projects that otherwise wouldn’t have been invested in or would have failed due to later stage funding not being available. It’s all a balancing act.

  11. Boeing have been lacking in fast jet design. They had to partner with Saab for the TX design. In the US Northrop and LM have dominated. So of course Boeing would love a leg up from the Brits to get them back in the game.

    In the aviation press Saab have said they’re very interested in Tempest. They’ve had little info on the Franco-German FCAS. Italy have said the same. Looks like the UK is ahead of Europe with this.

    • (Chris H) Expat – You don’t get much bigger or closer to the Italian Government than Leonardo in Italy so I think we can take their involvement as an ‘Italian’ statement. After all they were as much shafted by the Franco – German deal as we were. The French sought to kill off Eurofighter competition and remove the big players but forgot we and the Italians are the major shareholders and combined have the only 5th Gen experience in Europe! – oops.

      We already have an excellent relationship with Leonardo at Westland, CAPTOR -E radar for RAF Typhoons and we supply the rear end and tailplanes amongst other systems for the F-35s they are building in Italy. So we already have industrial co-operations, 5th Gen manufacturing and indeed operation. No one else in Europe has that.

      As to SAAB they would make an excellent investing partner as I have said many times before if we can negotiate round their military neutrality which might obstruct sales. They are rather good at keeping costs down and have excellent manufacturing capability. We already work together on Gripen, they need our 5th Gen knowledge and so we would make very productive partners.

      For the immediate future development I am happy for the UK and Italy to take this forward on their own and if possible add SAAB along the way.

      • Chris. Although leonardo are involved there’s no Italian money yet. At the moment it will be leonardo UK. But the Italian government like what they’re hearing.

  12. (Chris H) As usual some excellent posts with a varied set of ideas and suggestions that provide much food for thought. I have to admit to rethinking my approach to having a large US involvement but I feel I must revert to my original position.

    US Incorporated looks after itself at all costs to others. It maintains a total grip on US Defence spending and will not allow any foreign competition to interfere with this. The US will never buy a UK or Italian built Tempest so we lose no sales. If they were ‘partners’ given the American attitude of superiority they would demand total control of the project and then build ‘their’ aircraft in the USA. Last aircraft they bought that was built abroad was the Harrier I. AV-8B and Goshawk all built in the USA, A330 MRTT shafted to gift $ Bns to Boeing (and none delivered 10 years later), Agusta Westland shafted to gift Boeing Sikorsky $ Bns (and none delivered 10 years later). And right there is the ‘baggage’ to which someone else referred. US Incorporated takes forever to actually start delivering anything and we cannot afford any undue delay in Tempest.

    Team Tempest is far more than an advanced combat fighter. It is a British national statement of intent as we leave the shackles of the EU – We will not go quietly into some wilderness. We will be the best in whatever we choose to do. We will succeed or fail by our own abilities and determination. And if likeminded people wish to walk with us they will be most welcome but THIS time it has to be us British who will decide the path we will follow.

    So I have to say again – Boeing are welcome to copy what we Brits did on F-35. Cough up $2.3 Bn and they can supply the Port wing for aircraft built here and in Italy.

    • Yeah. Ultimately we don’t have abundant natural resources (oil, gas, precious metals etc)(*). That means that we really do need to become a knowledge economy driven by innovation both in high-tech product design but also investing in the high-tech manufacturing capabilities that ensure that we also build the stuff here. High-tech products are also less labour-intensive than 10p Gap t-shirts or whatever so our competitive disadvantage regarding labour costs vs a third world country is really far less significant in that high-tech manufacturing world. This approach and ambition needs to be applied to not only defence but many other industries as well (pharma, medical devices, computing, robotics, fintech, etc). That’s why I’m not massively upset that the UK isn’t providing all Tempest funding because there are other areas of innovation that need to be supported. Of course I wish the UK had more speculative funding available but right now it doesn’t so we need to invest what we have as effectively as possible.

      (*) I might have made a joke at this point about Manchester and water being the exception but with the upcoming hosepipe ban for the NorthWest I guess we don’t even have an abundant supply of that either.

    • “We will not go quietly into some wilderness. We will be the best in whatever we choose to do. We will succeed or fail by our own abilities and determination. And if likeminded people wish to walk with us they will be most welcome but THIS time it has to be us British who will decide the path we will follow.”

      Would someone in Mrs May’s Government please ask Chris for his permission to read that excellent statement in Parliament and in the EU assembly.

      Beautifully sums up the national attitude and resolve we should be running with … excellent writing Chris.

      Ps, forgot about AV8A and the Goshawk!

      • (Chris H) John Clark – Quietly blushing here but thank you so much.
        Sadly Parliament has become an inward looking echo chamber of factions within groups within parties all pulling in different ways. Even if the PM (for whom I have huge respect and sympathy) took my view she would be howled down into silence by someone with a vested interest. Brexit has proved what we thought was a good democracy is actually broken .. Our representatives do not actually represent our decisions

  13. I bet Boeing would! And bring what to the party? Billions of US dollars? I doubt it. America will do its own 6th gen fighter and if we’re lucky, allow us to build the exhaust nozzle. The minute you collaborate with the US on anything they slap ITAR on it. Then subjugate you to a third rate role. I lived through both the Kestrel and KC-45 debacles. There’s only one way with the US, their way. It’s got to be their programme and they’ll let you participate if you do as you’re told. Never the other way round. And why should it be? They are ten times bigger, richer and more powerful. If we want to have any degree of control over this and safeguard our technology, we’ll either have to do this ourselves or cooperate with someone of equal stature to us. Now that doesn’t leave many to choose from. Money as always will be the deciding factor.

    • (Chris H) Sceptical Richard – You state the ‘bleeding obvious’ but do it well about the Americans. No one partners them – others work at their beck and call. It was the less edifying aspect of the F-35 programme where they used every bit of UK knowhow on the ‘B’ and never gave us any credit (same shit different …). We are the only ‘Tier One Partner’, the largest development investor, the largest buyer outside the USA and yet Italy got an FAL and European airframe maintenance and Turkey got F135 engine overhauls. Us? I think we get to store some bits and pieces at Marham apart from the BAE assembly lines for rear ends and tailplanes.

      We clearly share confidence that we and the Italians have the technical and manufacturing capabilities and using all the kit off Typhoon gives us an excellent prototype possibility. I suspect I am more confident of our ability (and intention) to fund the project to that point. But we will see.

      • We do have a little more content than you summarize, as UKDJ has written about previously, but key big ticket items like a RR engine option have been excluded as previously mentioned as well as other perhaps less obvious strategically important capabilities for the UK.

        I’d highlight the importance of software development here and what it is enabling, which in my view is at least as important as stealth in the F-35. The UK is contributing s/w and its not insignificant, but uniquely Israel has authority to integrate its own electronic warfare systems. The main computer will allow bolt-on software modules to apparently support add-on Israeli electronics such as sensors and countermeasures including an external jamming pod, Israeli air-to-air missiles and guided bombs in the internal weapon bays. Compare that to the UK, currently held hostage to Block IV support of existing and near term UK weapon systems and what happens down the road if the UK wants to add in other weapons? How long will that take and how much will it cost. I think its safe to say Lockheed/US weapons will get the earliest inclusion so yet another means to constrict competition.

  14. I think we should keep the Americans well away from this one and use as partners Sweden and Canada. The Canadians have a mature aerospace industry and would love to get back into advanced fighter aircraft. They had a world beater with the Avro Arrow which was sabotaged by the Americans as it was so good. They are cheesed off with them again and have cancelled the Hornet purchase. (I think )No need to mention how good the Swedes are.

    • The US did everything in their power to torpedo the TSR-2 and the Arrow. Canada does indeed have an important aerospace sector. Other peer nations apart from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain could be Australia, South Korea and Japan. I don’t know whether Japan operates a similar regime to ITAR, but it would complicate the export panorama. Of course, the more nations the more complex it becomes to manage the programme.

      • (Chris H) Sceptical Richard – At the risk of repeating myself I cannot agree that we should in any way entertain Japan or South Korea as partners. they are extensions of US military purchasing and supply, are a security risk to the project and will never buy one. they will do a ‘France’ on us. The USA would just use them as Trojan Horses, obtain all the data technical stuff and then use that to destroy us. Yes I do believe this is a real possibility. We ignore history at our peril most of which you have listed yourself

        The Aussies are totally wrapped up in US aerospace purchasing and supply and are committed totally to sole F-35A purchase. They again will never buy a UK built Tempest so why kid ourselves

        Forget France and Germany for obvious reasons (Airbus / Dassault)

        Spain is likewise an Airbus country and has substantial interests in Airbus Defence projects and will have to go along with the EU Masterpiece.

        Which leaves Italy, who are already part of Team Tempest in the form of Leonardo, and Sweden (or rather SAAB). A very good partner.

        I would add Canada as an investing partner as they wish to revive advanced aerospace manufacturing, their CF-18s are getting a bit tired but could stopgap with loaned Typhoon or ex Aussie F-18s and they dislike US aerospace and especially the Trump Administration with a vengeance.

        Gulf States will be customers and if I was BAE I would be suggesting turning their 48 Typhoon Letter of Intent into a similar LoI for Tranche 1 tempests given the avionics, systems and engines will be upgraded Typhoon kit fitted in a new airframe. Eurofighter GMBH do not own any of that and besides BAE and Leonardo are the majority shareholders. Airbus never thought of that one.

        • Chris, agree with most of what you say but don’t forget that the U.K. is as much an Airbus nation as France, Germany and Spain. They employ 15,000 people here. Sustain nearly 100,000 other jobs and U.K. leads the world in large aircraft wing technology, pneumatic, hydraulic and fuel systems as well as landing gear. All thanks to its participation in the Airbus system. Let’s not throw any of that away.

          • (Chris H) Sceptical Richard – Yes we build all Airbus’ wings and so much more. RR in the UK also of course supplies Trent engines on an exclusive basis for A330neo and A350 and some 60% of all A380 sales so I agree we are a key supplier to Airbus. Something that works both ways of course.

            The point I was making about Spin is all their aerospace activity is Airbus derived but I was especially referring to Airbus military and why they will follow Germany and France. We need to be very careful we do not allow Airbus military to get involved in Tempest for the simple reason sensitive data will wing (excuse the pun) its way to Airbus / Dassault for the benefit of the EU Masterpiece. Not sure quite what Airbus could bring to Team Tempest we don’t already have.

            I am trying to argue with some logic and not from a gut feeling we must avoid anything to do with the EU at all costs.

  15. So let’s start putting together a working Tempest Consortium

    Primary partners:
    UK, Canada, Italy, Sweden, perhaps Turkey if they get their act together….

    Secondly partners, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Arab Emirates …

    Japan, South Korea and Israel appear to be out due to their twined relationship with the US and Israel would also rule out any Gulf state participation unfortunately.

    The Gulf states are very keen to get their aviation industries moving and with a technology transfe element and a component part production deal, would supply a crucial piece of the Tempest puzzle.

    The required finance and required nominal production figure of *400 would be achievable with this line up in my opinion.

    * 400 used be the figure used to gauge the suitability of a project to move towards production.

  16. Look at the Auto industry (cars & vans). A manufacturer notices it has a gap in its product range. It wants to fill that gap, but the economics of developing a brand new model for a limited market do not add up. Then it discovers a rival manufacturer also wants to fill the same gap in its range. You then see 2 rivals co-operate to develop a common floorpan, suspension, brakes, safety equipment. Then they fit different, but similar bodies, their own engines & interiors. It looks like 2 different models, but the eagle eyed can spot the common bits.
    Airliners, A330, A380, B787, etc. can be ordered with American or British engines.
    Super Hornet & Typhoon are a similar size & capability.
    You could develop a common agile stealthy airframe based on Tempest. The US version would have engines, radar carried over from block 3 Super Hornet. The British version would have engines, radar, etc carried over from tranche 3 Typhoon.
    Economies of scale on common bits, national preference of existing bits elsewhere.

    • (Chris H) JohnHartley – You make your argument well and in many engineering cases ‘optioneering’ is a tried and tested part of creating the finished product. Different engines in the same model by the one manufacturer requires extensive engineering.

      I am more than happy for the USA to pay us to licence build a UK designed / optioneered airframe and fit whatever they like in their own time provided the very act of optioneering does not delay the overall UK project and hike up costs. To some extent we already did this idea with the Harrier II / Av-8B where the basic airframe had different systems and equipment levels.

      Sadly the OCD part of me has to point out that the A330 (and A350s) now only come with RR Trent engines. The 777X will only have GE engines. A380s and 787s are optioned for RR and GE engines as you say But this does not in any way criticise your main excellent point.

      • Certainly an interesting look at potential US involvement.

        Unfortunately, I would imagine the US would require design lead and the ability to control the overall program.

        As another example, let’s examine the Jaguar. The French developed a much cheaper, rough and ready fighter Bomber.

        We developed the GR1 that was a much better equipped and really rather good little strike aircraft, that served the RAF in an exemplary fashion for decades.

        The French took every opportunity to damage the Jaguar sales drive in order to promote the Mirage, despite the back stabbing, the British variant of Jaguar was a very successful design and a sales success.

        In fact, while French officials were engaged directly on SEPCAT business (expenses partly paid by BAC), they still tried very hard indeed to sell various Mirage variants instead!

        The US would do much the same and block sales in favour of controlled US products, by fair means or foul…

      • BAE need to replace the Typhoon. Boeing need to replace the Super Hornet. Neither have the time & money to build all new. The latest engines & radars on the existing models are still credible. They just need a new stealthy agile airframe.
        This has been done with combat engines before.
        Remember the F-15 & F-16 were engineered to take either a P&W or a GE engine(s). The US used to have tenders every so often. Whoever was cheapest, got to put their engines in the next batch of fighters.

    • I agree here.

      Boeing or such may get a role in the Tempest but won’t be the lead because the U.S. is already designing a national specific aircraft and has been for a decade to replace the F22.

      We’re already far along on development since it’s widely recognized that the F35 is already long in the tooth technology wise (the tech renewal cycle is murderous these days) badly compromised, and cannot fill an effective air to air role with too few F22’s in the inventory(VERY long in the tooth tech wise).

      We’ll have prototypes flying in a decade (hopefully the UK will have the Tempest up at the same time) however, I believe these projects will end up being mostly sovereign projects to prevent compromise, delays, and the multitude of other issues a massive set of partners entails. Nation states are already turning inward. It’s not just the U.S.

      Unfortunately these designs will probably be OBE by that time as well… Hypersonic unmanned craft and missiles are the future along with DEWs… It would be suicide for the crews to man these craft in the kind of threat environment I foresee in the near future…



  17. Also relevant since it’s obvious we’re not going to be able to afford an stealth air force.

    90% of the missions flown today and in the foreseeable future (barring peer warfare) don’t require an F35 to fly it. An upgraded tried and true bomb truck that can switch to a formidable air to air fighter at the flick of a switch is perfectly fine with me. Like the old saying – “Quantity has its own quality”…



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