Anne-Marie Trevelyan has outlined the next steps of British and Swedish collaboration on developing a new combat jet.

Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham asked via a Parliamentary written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans she has to collaborate with Sweden on combat air systems as a result of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on that matter with that country on 18 July 2019.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and the Minister for Defence Procurement answered:

“The Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments allows for additional activities, including contracts, to be taken forward.

The next steps include development of a joint acquisition road map, identifying technologies to spiral from Gripen and Typhoon onto an future combat air system, research and technology co-operation and further Government and industry studies, particularly on cost modelling.

These steps will inform both Governments’ decision-making process. For the UK, the next decision to be made is in quarter four of financial year 2020-21, following submission of the Outline Business Case.”

Earlier in the year we reported that the uK and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits both governments to work on a joint combat air development and acquisition programme, including the development of new concepts to meet both nations’ future requirements.

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This is all good news. My only niggle with the Tempest programme is a: will it still be relevant by the time we come to build it due to the potential amazing advantages of autonomous craft operating in large numbers, with greater g force and with hugely increased range all linked by hive mind able to react across a whole battlescape in milliseconds to any change in circumstance, and b: is the programme ambitious enough? France and Germany are designing a system of platforms and will likely end up with a fighter, a Ucav and maybe more all designed to… Read more »


If manned aircraft are going to be part of the system of systems then its potentially beneficial for the UK to focus on building the only 6th gen manned fighter. The rest of the system in the form of UCAV’s or drone swarms can be bought from foreign allies or off the shelf from domestic suppliers. There is probably no point in building an ubber expensive Taranis + size UCAV costing hundreds of millions when a you can buy a XQ 58 Valkyrie for $2 million and combine them with a throw away swarm adapted MALD for just $100,000 chucked… Read more »

Barry Larking

Good. Just good.

Nigel Collins

With Italy (Leonardo)now set to join this exciting venture, things are beginning to look very promising for Tempest. I’ve mentioned on previous occasions that combining the EJ200 with the potential of increased thrust would be an added bonus for the E/F models, making them an ideal fit given the unit cost for the RAF short term, thus allowing more money to be allocated to the Tempest programme. Not quite two for the price of one (10 hardpoints) but, you can see where I’m coming from! 9G tested and can fire Meteor amongst many other useful weapons including ASM’s which could… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Preferably not, so that our carriers have the aircraft numbers necessary.


What, 138 F35B’s between two carriers? They’ll have one complete air wing by 2023, not including USMC squadrons.
With production numbers set to increase thereafter, the “A” variant could begin to be phased into RAF squadrons around 2025…


Don’t be silly, we’ll never have that many combat capable. That is 138 over the 30 year lifetime of the programme, how many of our current F35B’s do you think will still be flying then?
Some will be needed for training purposes.
A good number will be in maintenance at any time.
And we will lose a number during that period as the airframes age, or through accidents.
At peak I suspect the most we’ll have available for deployment will be under 70, which is only 35 per carrier.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. Which is fine. 138 is not happening, nor needs to.



That’s a lot of F35Bs for two (and when in for refit, one) aircraft Carriers.
If we are to go off your calculations, the RAF won’t have any 5th Gen, F35s at all.

We currently have 40 out of 142 available Typhoons in sustainment, this doesn’t mean that most of them can’t be brought into the forward fleet within a normal rotational service period.

So, where are our readily available, RAF 5Gen Fighters coming from?


My calculation was peak 35 per carrier, or 70 in total, but that would be surge conditions. The usual state of affairs will be only 1 carrier at sea with 12 F35B’s aboard, which means the other 58 available ashore for other duties. Now if a major conflict, against peer stated resulted in both carriers fully deployed then that leaves the RAF short. But what that highlights is that we need to order more aircraft beyond the 138 to equip fully both the RAF and RN under war conditions. These additional aircraft could be Typhoons, or F35A’s, though I’d still… Read more »


So, is the RAF aware (by your calculations) that it’s not getting any F35s? Are they also aware by your calculations that their fleet service capabilities are below par.
I wonder if the RAF also knows that it won’t have any 5th Gen capabilities in a peer-to-peer situation?

And why would you suggest to them, adding 4th Gen Typhoon in place of 5th Gen JSFs?

We always knew that the initial RAF F35 operating/fleet numbers would be modest, but I never realised, only if the order is increased, which was always likely till Tempest was announced.

I’m totally confused…


The RAF are getting F35B’s, and they’re getting two new floating airfields to fly them from (as well as they’re existing static ones).
There will be RAF and FAA squadrons of F35Bs, but all will be trained to operate from carriers. The F35Bs will operate as a joint force, with hopefully inter-service squabbling taking a back seat.

Both carriers, fully packed is an extreme – probably one step below spinning up out Trident missiles.


You’re missing the point, why would the RAF even mention the A variant through the mid stages of procurement, if the strategy was as you unequivocally state it to be?

So, The RAF are basically playing second fiddle to the FAA with an absolutely critical front line asset?

Maybe someone with RAF connections can corroborate what you state, or maybe you could point me to the mission statement?


A naval tempest should be looked into, the naval typhoon was interesting but the Indians pulled out and BAE scrapped it didn’t it.


I don’t think the Naval Typhoon was ever a realistic prospect even for the Indian Navy. By BAE’s own admission the aircraft would of been expensive to produce because of the relatively low numbers and the extra weight in strengthening the aircraft for carrier operations would of affected it’s performance too.


The worst thing the Brits could do would be to make a STOVL landing version of their next gen fighter. If it wasn’t for a STOVL version of the JSF it would have been a much better aircraft. All that STOVL does is cripple the designers and force them to make huge tradeoffs just so the Marines and the RN can have a STOVL version. That is why the USN says they are going it alone on their 6th generation fighter that will replace the Super Hornet. If Marines was a new STOVL after the F-35 they will have to… Read more »

Meirion X

It would be cheaper to convert the QE carriers to EM CATOBAR, then develop a STOVL Tempest!


Will it have vectored thrust capability?


I don’t think they’ve got that far in the design stage yet. The model on display has an interesting design for where the nozel would be but looks more setup to reduce radar and heat signature that thrust vectoring.


The concept phase commitment of italy and Sweden isfantastic news. Re various posts within. I suspect that tempest will allow the creation of generic sensor, stealth and weopon integration as well as generic software abilities to control loyal wingman / drones etc. I can imagine that being the critical path and key financial investment in the project. Making that work on two complimentary airframes would, i suspect be achievable at relatively low incremental cost. The swedes are long term advocates and practitioners of short take-off and landing and the Italians have also invested in harrier and F35b STOVL capabilty. Significant… Read more »


Meanwhile, in today’s Mail Online, we are told in the headline summary that the Type 31 is to get the go ahead and they will enter service in 2020!
“They look rather bland and functional-for that money I would want something a bit more fancy…” says one commentator!!!!!
A brighter colour scheme maybe??


I am very excited by this partnership, especially now it seems we will be extending our long history of collaboration with the Italians as well. This could well produce an execllent cost vs. performance tradeoff.


I hope the tempest takes after gripen as opposed to the typhoon. Small and cheap with cheap Running costs. No point in it costing a sh*t tonne if having swarms of pilotless jets is the way forward, might actually have a few then too.