Britain is looking to maintain a leading role in future combat aircraft projects according to Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier.
Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier, chief of staff of the Royal Air Force said:
“We have world leading capabilities. We are going to define what we want to do in the future. What we’re not going to do is follow where other nations go” he said after a conference of global air chiefs.
“I don’t feel that the UK’s role in this is to chase after France and Germany.”
Hillier reportedly also noted Britain had played a key role in development of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35.
The UK and Sweden recently conducted initial talks regarding collaboration on a future fighter aircraft.
This story has now been featured by many outlets however it was broken by the Financial Times.
The organisation say that the MoD is looking to new aerospace partners after being left out of Franco-German programme. This isn’ t new, last year BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries signed an agreement to collaborate on the first development phase of an indigenous fifth-generation fighter jet for the Turkish Air Force.
The planned aircraft, the ‘TFX’ is expected to be a twin-engine, fifth-generation Turkish ‘aerial superiority fighter’. The aircraft is planned to replace F-16 in Turkush service. As far back as December 2015, Turkey had indicated that it intended to chose BAE Systems to assist with the design of the fighter.
It is understood that Rolls-Royce have offered Turkey EJ200 engine technology transfer and joint-development of a derivative for the TFX. Signing this agreement in Ankara in the presence of The Prime Ministers of Turkey and the United Kingdom, BAE Systems Chief Executive, Ian King, said:
“BAE Systems is a leader in designing, manufacturing and supporting fighter aircraft and is in an excellent position to contribute technical and engineering expertise and experience of managing complex projects to this key Turkish programme. The announcement signals an exciting next step in relations between both Turkey and the UK with the co-operation between BAE Systems and TAI paving the way for a deeper defence partnership. The agreement confirms ongoing collaborative work on the design and development of the aircraft.”
At its peak hundreds of Turkish and UK engineers will collaborate on the TF-X programme helping to support collaboration on the skills, technology and technical expertise required to deliver the programme.
The news regarding Sweden comes as the UK is preparing to release its Combat Air Strategy. This strategy will examine the operational capability needed in the future and the skills and resource required to deliver it. The work will take new and emerging technology into account, as well as export potential, whilst testing British industry’s ability to deliver our future requirements.
It is expected to be launched at the Farnborough Air Show.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“Since the birth of airpower, British industry has been crucial to maintaining our military’s world-leading position. As we celebrate 100 years of the RAF protecting our skies, it is fitting that we create bold and ambitious plans to help our brave Armed Forces keep us safe in the face of intensifying threats. The Combat Air Strategy will bring together the best of British engineering, skill and design, and deliver a compelling vision for the future of air power.”
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said:
“It is especially fitting that we launch the Combat Air Strategy as our Royal Air Force marks its 100th anniversary. Combat Air capabilities have been at the heart of the RAF’s capabilities throughout its history, and are constantly employed on operations across the world today.
This strategy will ensure that the RAF can continue to remain at the forefront of the high-end airpower technology and innovation we need to deal with future threats, working in close collaboration with UK industry and our international partners.”
The UK is already a major player in the air sector which accounts for 85% of the Britain’s defence export orders. The industry is made up of close to 2,500 companies, generating more than £33.5bn in turnover and employing more than 128,000 people – some 26,000 of them in highly skilled research, design and engineering jobs say the MoD.