The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that the new Tempest jet will not be carrier capable and will be a purely land based aircraft.
While many already knew this, there had been little in the way of official confirmation until James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence responded to a written Parliamentary question from Tobias Ellwood.
Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Committee, asked:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has for Tempest to operate at sea.”
Jeremy Quin responded:
“The UK’s Combat Air strategy operates across a broad force mix. The maritime combat air role is undertaken by the UK’s F35B Lightning aircraft from the UK’s Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS), seeks to replace Typhoon once it retires from service and provide an international next generation Combat Air System, and high tempo military capabilities for decades to come.”
What is Tempest?
Tempest is the RAF’s next generation combat aircraft, coming into service from 2035 to replace the Typhoon.
Will drones operate from the carriers?
According to a presentation on the ‘Future Maritime Aviation Force’, the Royal Navy is planning to develop carrier launched drones capable of combat, airborne early warning and aerial refuelling.
Slides make mention of “adding mass” to the Carrier Wing with additional F-35BS and a medium FWUAS (these will be Vixen fixed wing drones, Harry Lye has taken a look at those here).
The Royal Air Force too is already working on a new Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept through Team Mosquito.
The land-based Mosquito drone will begin a flight-test programme in 2023. There is no word however when the sea-based Vixen drone will start flight tests.
How will the drones be launched at sea?
Earlier, we reported that the Ministry of Defence is currently seeking information on the potential for industry provide assisted launch and arrested recover systems for a range of air vehicles, which would be suitable to fit to a vessel within 3 – 5 years.
The Ministry of Defence say that this request for information is to support the development of the Royal Navy’s Future Maritime Aviation Force (a presentation on which is where the slide above came from) with potential for use with both crewed and un-crewed air vehicles.
The Ministry of Defence add that it is looking to assess the availability of electromagnetic catapult, and arrestor wire systems for the launch and recovery of air vehicles.