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.

CG Image via BAE.

You can read more about plans for Tempest by clicking here.

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.

New British ‘Mosquito’ fighter aircraft to fly in 2023

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.

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andy
andy
23 days ago

i can’t say i am surprised, as we do not have cats and traps, if we did, it might be a whole different ball game, but with defence budgets being scrutinised and money wasted on so called upgrades that never happen or get cancelled would we ever be able, to afford to convert the 2 carriers to cats and traps, plus like mentioned drones are seemingly the way forward, as drones will become cheaper to build….

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
23 days ago
Reply to  andy

I don’t think that we ever going to happen.

The full scale EMALS type CATs’n’TRAPs is now a sideshow.

Drones are the future and wether by design or happenstance the right decisions have been made.

Tim
Tim
22 days ago
Reply to  andy

The uk defence budget is one of the largest in the world I think it could if it felt it needed to convert them to cat and trap but the uk has decided not to go down that road in reality the uk has overseas territories that can be used to cover large parts of the globe carriers are for that time where we can’t cover with our land based aircraft

andy
andy
22 days ago
Reply to  Tim

it maybe large but it is not managed well at all, we have our nuclear deterrent paid for out of it, never used to be until Osbourne became chancellor, but we spend a fortune out of it settling claims, for injured service personnel or civil workers with repetitive strain injuries along with tank chasing solicitors, there is also legal bills defending veterans over this shambles of incidents during op banner, which should never been allowed from the get go, then there are the pension’s, so add all that up that is a massive chunk of money spent from a budget… Read more »

john melling
john melling
23 days ago

I guess this now clears up some of the fog, and we have a clearer direction!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
23 days ago

Changes little.
My eye is on Vixen and Mosquito.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
23 days ago

Which begs the question, as the carriers will outlive the F35, what will it be replaced by or are we essentially commuting ourselves to son of F35?

dave12
dave12
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Yes and when the F35 retire will it be solely drones as a replacement or will we have to rely on the USMC wanting procurement for a manned replacement ?

BB85
BB85
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I wouldn’t be so sure it will outlive F35. They will still be producing F35 in 25 years time unless the B varient gets cut by the US.
That will put F35 out of service date in the 2060s.

Last edited 23 days ago by BB85
SD67
SD67
8 days ago
Reply to  BB85

Last scheduled order for F35 is 2035, around the same time as first scheduled order for Tempest.

Jonathan
Jonathan
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Let’s be honest there is a very good chance that the future is unmanned platform and the F35/ Tempest will be the last manned fighters.

Nic
Nic
22 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I would tend to agree that the future will be drone centred and manned aircraft will be thin on the ground.
But we would still need manned helicopters for troop deployment and logistics.

Paul C
Paul C
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

As BB85 points out, the F35B is probably going to be in service for the next 40 years. By that time the current carriers will be approaching the end of their useful lives anyway. So we need to start developing replacements based around unmanned platforms in the 2040s which can take over from the QE class in the 2060s.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

They won’t outlive F-35. Carriers have a 50 year life max, so out to 2070. US is planning at present to have them in service until 2070 at a minimum.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
23 days ago

Sorry to labour the point, but it is then back to my original arguments elsewhere for an interim “grab” of any late-fit AV8Bs/Harriers going spare to cover for the next 3-5-years, and then for the UK to develop a “Soooooper HARRIER III” that is maybe based around a twin-Pegasus type of powerplant to go on the UK QE and PoW. My day job is commercial drones. Unless you are going to have shed loads of pilots sitting in a (errrr…) shed somewhere controlling them, then I will be shocked if we have truly autonomous military drones licensed to kill within… Read more »

Finney
Finney
23 days ago

Why would we develop a VTOL aircraft based on Harrier or Pegasus, 50 year old designs? There will probably be no other western VTOL combat aircraft until the F35B goes out of service. There may be no others in the whole world as the Russians and Chinese don’t seem to be developing one.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
23 days ago
Reply to  Finney

…learning the design lessons from history and building upon them.

Having got 2x Aircraft Carriers, what are we going to stick on them as the F35B is phased out in the future? Just trying to look ahead.

Matt C
Matt C
23 days ago

“Son of F35B” presumably. By then we will have had even more lessons learned from F35B than Harrier, so why not build upon that?

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
23 days ago
Reply to  Matt C

…or both. Longer range would be good 🙂

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
22 days ago

Even a twin engined F35B with longer range, speedy and more payload? A bit of a mini-naval Tempest?

TrevorH
TrevorH
23 days ago

A rebuild for a harrier is a step backward. we are looking 35+years ahead. I think the Tempest is likely too big for carrier.

Who knows where technology is going in 20 years. In 20 years if we want carriers that’s when we will start designing them and what to fly off them. Meantime who k owd what weapons and computers will be on our F35s.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
23 days ago
Reply to  TrevorH

…not a rebuild. Just build on the lessons learnt from both and help sustain UK design and manufacture, rather than all the £dosh going out of the country again.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
23 days ago

Hi. It would simply take away precious funds from kit we actually need. If we have spare cash, then we will buy more F35’s instead of wasting vast sums of money on a harrier, old or new. Bringing even a small number of Harriers back into service would cost a huge sum of money. Pilot and ground crew training, logistics and infrastructure, maintenance, ground equipment, basing. It’s a total non starter. Harrier was fantastic In it’s day, but F35 is in a different league. F16’s are still being produced, Likelihood is F35 will still be in production in 40 years… Read more »

AV
AV
22 days ago

Lessons learnt?….are you aware of how F-35 systems, avionics and flight controls were actually fitted to a Harrier and test flown into oblivion before the Lightning even made serial production?

AV
AV
22 days ago
Reply to  AV

*how many

Mark
Mark
23 days ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Won’t need aircraft carries in 20-30 years let alone 50. The new reaction engine sabre engine being developed in UK and soon to have it its first small scale engine prototype run. Will be able to put a fighter anywhere on planet in less than 5 hours at Mk5. So after tempest they will be no need to have a carrier, manned or unmanned drones will simply take off from UK and strike anywhere on planet.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
23 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Sounds futuristic but you are Certainly thinking in the right direction reaction engined fighters are probably more likely than large carriers that’s for sure 50 years hence they will simply be impossible to defend I suspect. Small drone versions maybe.

TrevorH
TrevorH
22 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Hmmm…

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Our carriers do more than carry fixed wing aircraft – they provide Task Force C2, can do HADR, carry commandos and helos etc.

Nic
Nic
18 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I think that Carriers will about for sometime with or without fixed wing aircraft They will always be used for helicopters and deployment of troops

Daveyb
Daveyb
22 days ago
Reply to  Finney

At Rolls Royce in Bristol they have in their museum/gallery the next generation of the Pegasus engine. This was the “3 poster” version where the Pegasus’s two hot end exhaust ducts were combined as a single outlet with reheat, as per a normal jet. This was the proposed RR engine for the early JSF program. The engine was also a proposal for the next gen Harrier if the JSF failed to work as a STOVL aircraft, this came after the AV-16 idea. If I remember correctly, it used the core of the EJ200, but put a whacking great 1st stage… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The answer as to why that idea died a death decades ago is your “whacking great 1st stage”. That makes the aircraft insanely fat, and completely compromises it for any kind of efficient cruise and transonic/supersonic performance – noting the F35 is to replace F18/16 class aircraft and longer range was wanted vs notriously short legged Harrier. Its also a one trick pony for a STOVL aircraft. STOVL is about thrust. Thrust is basically: Mass flow rate x velocity change. To get thrust you can (a) move a little bit of air a lot faster (turbojet), or (b) move a… Read more »

AV
AV
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Spot on!

DaveyB
DaveyB
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Yes, you are quite correct. The Pegasus is basically a high bypass ratio turbofan where it uses cold mass flow in conjunction with high velocity hot flow to generate thrust that is greater than the aircraft’s weight to achieve vertical lift I’m trying to remember what the RR tripod engine was called. It was a fixed ratio high bypass turbofan, much like Pegasus. Unlike one of the proposals for Pegasus, it didn’t heat up the air exiting the cold exhausts through plenum chamber burning, which was supposed to be used for the proposed AV-16 “Super Harrier”. The tripod style arrangement… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Focusing on lack of stealth of a fat Pegasus type engine ignores it’s draggy nature which limits range and max speed which are of equal importance.

Face up to it, the Pegasus/Harrier approach died with “Monica”.

DaveyB
DaveyB
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Agree, you would have to make significant compromises to make sure the aircraft could achieve sustained supersonic flight.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
22 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Exactly. Thanks for the summary DaveyB.

I remember in the earlier days when RR were trying to master (unsuccessfully) plenum chamber burning for re-heat.

Some sort of F33B/F22 vectored thrust for the main motive force, but with the use of a “cool” front end for STOL is a much more elegant solution than the F35B.

The problem with the original Pegasus is the big fan on the front so only subsonic and not very stealthy. Maybe a Sooooper-Pegasus II could be a great evolution from this.

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago

RR “mastered” plenum re-heat. The technology died for reasons that had nothing to do with them i.e. ground erosion & hot gas re ingestion.

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Thanks. Ron5. I must have been behind the curve for that bit.

DaveyB
DaveyB
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Yep, hot gas ingestion was the main problem. The Harrier they used for the trials also suffered from “suck down”. This was where the hot jet exhaust caused a very low pressure directly below the airframe and made the aircraft sink, applying more power made it worse. They had to use really large strakes to try and mitigate the issue, but they never really solved it.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
23 days ago

That is pretty much my point. The unmanned aircraft solution has been around since the 60s and with as many engineers trying to perfect drones, there are as many engineers try to figure out how to mess with them , unless you want to take the human out of the loop ( ethical mine field) then the days of a fully autonomous airforce are very far away. You still need to be able to pass instruction and they will always be vulnerable because of it. Whether the F35 will out live the carrier is a moot point given that the… Read more »

Derek
Derek
20 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Yes, Michael and that’s the point to me. R & D will always produce results, even though there will be misses along the way. Typhoon 1 is nothing like Typhoon 100 in many different ways. The same will be true of the F35. In 10 years time it probably will be unrecognizable from F35 UK 1 – one of the main reasons for the sensible decision to slow buy.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
23 days ago

That system was rejected because it is inherently un stealthy. It literally signals its position to sensors.

TrevorH
TrevorH
22 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yes. I seem recall that the lift fan is inherently a better option but happy to be contradicted.

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  TrevorH

One of its many advantages is that the lift fan approach separates vertical lift thrust from main engine thrust. With Harrier/Monica type designs, any increase in STOVL performance has to come from very expensive main engine thrust upgrades rather than much cheaper lift fan improvements.

Nic
Nic
22 days ago

The way research is going drones will be a major factor in future combat on land sea and air, less boots on the ground

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago

This twin pegasus powerplant, for a tactical fighter bomber – you realise it’ll be as wide as a Hercules with drag to match? We do have loads of pilots sitting in sheds, and are recruiting and training even more. Why would you waste money training 1000s of people, hundreds of millions on spare parts and tools, billions on support contracts with industry (for parts etc) on ancient Harriers when if we had that money, we could spend a fraction and have more military effect at far greater efficiency from just having some more F35s? Noting we dont have the money… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Amen to that.

DaveyB
DaveyB
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Back in the late 60’s Dornier tried the twin Pegasus approach with their Do-31 light transport aircraft. It achieved flight and even did hovering and vertical take-off and landings. But to do so it needed 8 additional vertical lift jets. It also suffered from lots of drag. due to large sponsons that housed the lift jet under the wings. It was eventually cancelled by the West German Government due to costs and a lack of interest from other NATO countries.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
23 days ago

Good decision. There are questions about the affordability of the project as is, let alone with the complexity of developing it for carrier ops.

Rob
Rob
23 days ago

Good point. When the MOD go for open ended do everything projects they never materialise and if they do are years late and massively over budget. By working out the specific requirement at the outset hopefully, this time around, this can be avoided. At the recent defence review the Navy got it’s carriers and new escorts, the Army has got it’s replacement vehicles and artillery and the RAF FCAS. In fact the RAF didn’t get much out of the review and I suspect their ‘price’ was a guarantee that Tempest & Mosquito happen. If the Navy get Vixen that’s great… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Rob, sounds like you think the army did well out of defence review. I disagree – cut from 82,000 to 70,000, tank fleet cut again (savagely) with an upgrade taking 9 years to deliver (FOC), Warrior upgrade cancelled and the vehicles allowed to wear out, no upgrade for AS90 but a ‘jam tomorrow’ replacement promised.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago

Hi Levi, The problem with carrier ops is primarily the landing. When landing on terrafirma you obviously have a long strip of thick concrete to put down on. The length is the key point as it gives you the space to flare out just before you plant the main gear down onto the runway. The problem for carrier operations with flaring your approach is that you increase the angle of attack of the wing, increasing lift until the speed bleeds off. This initial increase in lift can be quite significant if your airspeed is even just a few knots above… Read more »

farouk
farouk
23 days ago

My only fear here is, if a labour government comes in they will do to the Tempest what they did to the TSR2. Naturally the money saved will be spent on MPs second homes, their John Lewis accounts employing BBC (think about it) rent boys and of funding third world countries buy Mercedes programs

Last edited 23 days ago by farouk
Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
23 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Hi, please keep in mind our comment moderation policy with regards to party politics. This comment should serve as a warning with regards to future posts.

Meirion X
Meirion X
23 days ago
Reply to  farouk

The last time a new Labour government. came into power was in 1997, At the time the Typhoon was still in development, running behind over budget, but it was Not cancelled.

Last edited 23 days ago by Meirion X
farouk
farouk
23 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

MX wrote: At the time the Typhoon was still in development, running behind over budget, but it was Not cancelled. I don’t think they could as it was a tri-nation project in which we were the largest investor, but saying that the RAF under instructions from the party in power did try to remove the 27 mm cannon in which to save money, or was it because it could kill somebody? Then after spending millions (Including at looking at filling the gap inside the plane with concrete) they decided to keep the gun, but just not issue ammo, thankfully that brainwave was… Read more »

Last edited 23 days ago by farouk
Meirion X
Meirion X
23 days ago
Reply to  farouk

I forgotten the issue with the cannon. They most likely tried to save a bit of money!

captain p wash
captain p wash
23 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Possibly, but it was not “Set in Concrete” 😁

Paul42
Paul42
23 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Yes, that’s exactly what they tried to do. Same old story over and over Well if Tempest is purely land based (why can’t we learn from the French and develop aircraft that can operate at Sea and on land??) then the RAF better hand all the F35Bs over to the Navy.

captain p wash
captain p wash
23 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Blimey mate…. I got all excited when you said “All the F35b’s” then I realised how many we actually have…….😂

Paul42
Paul42
23 days ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Numbers are a lot smaller than they should be at the moment, but they will grow……

captain p wash
captain p wash
23 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

They will grow mate……. 48 eventually by all accounts, just a shame we’ll not get the other 90 though. 😥

Paul42
Paul42
22 days ago
Reply to  captain p wash

We may still order all 138, but the minimum number will be around 90. The current buy rate does ensure we get the up-to-date versions instead of having to spend a fortune updating airframes or retiring them.like the Tranche 1 Typhoons (although that’s just an excuse – they perform perfectly well in the AIr Defence role).

captain p wash
captain p wash
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

90 ? Please can you share your source on this figure mate…… I’d love to see the time frame and confirmed order schedule.

Paul42
Paul42
22 days ago
Reply to  captain p wash

It was in the Defence review. Although acknowledged that the UK would probably not buy all 138(although that wasn’t actually confirmed), it was confirmed that 48 have been ordered to date with a further order to follow probably totalling between 80 and 90. As for delivery dates, thats anybodys guess. The only reason for this is a shift towards Tempest, although it remains to be seen just what happens with that.

TrevorH
TrevorH
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

The USAFs next gen plane will not be marinised. The USN will develop a separate carrier plane. Indeed they the USN have always built separate planes. The F18 is for carriers, as was the F14. There are good reasons for that .
The F35 is an exception. I can only guess but the French German 6th gen plane, if it is indeed going to be 6th gen, will have expensive compromises, and that only for the benefit of a couple of dozen planes.

oryzons
oryzons
21 days ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Sorry but no. The Rafale has not “expensive compromises” Vs Typhoon. The compromises are actually to have a carrier with cats & traps. If you do you make the design from scratch with that in mind, and after the full Navy version you can derive a ligther land base version. By the way even the F18 SH wich was not supposed to be a land based aircraft is now a contender for Swiss, Finland & Canadian competitions, and a serious one ! But for sure if you start by : no need for cats & traps, it’s costly and we… Read more »

Callum
Callum
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

why can’t we learn from the French and develop aircraft that can operate at Sea and on land??

Because we’ve witnessed first hand that combining clashing requirements usually results in inferior final products. If we want Tempest to actually be good enough to compete, it needs to remain focused on land operations.

If we want to develop a carrier replacement in future, we can use experience and common components from Tempest on a purpose-built carrier aircraft.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago
Reply to  Callum

Hi Callum,

Yup, develop an airframe capable of taking the extra stresses of carrier ops and fill it with as much of the systems from Tempest as you can / is appropriate. The systems is where most of the cost is these days, so it will help to spread part of the development cost of Tempest as well.

Of course, the effectiveness of this approach would depend on the requirements of the two aircraft being sufficient close to make the systems applicable to both, a trade off in effect.

Cheers CR

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Well I think the fact that 3 countries decided to side with the UK and none with the French the last time that debate was had i.e. Typhoon/Rafale and the weight restrictions inherent in that decision, tends to suggest that most tended to disagree with your advice. Hey maybe things have changed but I doubt it for a multi role aircraft certainly where so much more will be needed than even back then. Will be interesting to see what happens with the Franco/German program and whether similar arguments between the parties break out. However I note that the proposed new… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  Meirion X

The cannon was to be deleted so as to save the money supporting and operating it. Turned out that came at an upfront cost because its weight was baked into the flight control system so that would need redesigning and then testing at time and cost. Or designing something that perfectly replciated it. So letting it sit in the plane inert solved that. But then the airworthiness aspect of a bit of unmaintained kit on the aeroplane kicked in and so it had to be maintained anyway. In which case, why not have it operational! 9/11 also reinforced that a… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Rogbob
Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

That’s a huge fairy tale about the gun invented by the RAF to get what they wanted. But nice to see it once again.

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

I’ve never heard that from the RAF, just from being in industry at the time, but whatever prejudice you want I guess.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
23 days ago
Reply to  farouk

It was also a Labour government that launched the carrier programme.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
22 days ago
Reply to  farouk

You have the Labour Party to thank for the new carriers.

Herodotus
Herodotus
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Precisely Graham. The one-eyed approach taken by some posters is not only disingenuous but deliberately provocative, with no other ambition other than to cause offence!

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
23 days ago

I think it also leans into Tempest being quite a large aircraft and it doesnt preclude short-medium range drone slaves being launched from sea assets to support a long range Tempest strike.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Good point Watcherzero,

We have heard much about swarms and loyal wingmen drones, but not much if anything about dynamic formations. The ability bring different capabilities into a formation at different phases of a mission would be a very useful capability.

If Tempest has inflight refueling and can be based close enough to the action then such dynamic formations could be created using Tempest, F35B and or Naval autonomous vehicles which might not have the range range / endurance as the large land based Tempest.

Cheers CR

expat
expat
23 days ago

You can see the logic, F35B with shorter range stands off from the target controlling deep strike drones. I don’t see a need to commit to a replacement for the F35B, the F35 will get a more efficient variable bipass engine in the next decade and hopefully direct energy weapons meaning the B’s lower payload/range than the A or C is less of an issue especially when teamed with drones.

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  expat

How can an aircraft with much lower endurance/range control longer endurance/range drones?? Wouldn’t the lower range one have to come back to be refueled before the drone has completed its mission?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Hi Ron5, It could work depending on the range and security of the comms link and the rules of engagement. As we all know one of the key points of drones if that the manned aircraft stay out of harms way. However, you are right to point out the endurance issue, but if control of the drones can be handed off from one platform to another reliably then this could potentially be managed during the mission planning process. Obviously, it is a constraint but not necessarily a show stopper in every case. The rules of engagement could in fact be… Read more »

Expat
Expat
22 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

If your not carrying weapons or low weapons load and cruise at a slower speed you lengthen flight time. Endurance is linked to speed and weight. With right mission planning the F35 could stay a loft longer letting the drones travel ahead. Remember drones are also being considered for refuelling.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
21 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Yup, agree entirely.

Its all in the mission planning, I’ve just finished reading Vulcan 607 about the attack on Stanley during the Falklands War. Well worth the read and highlights the complexity of multi plane missions…

Cheers CR

Expat
Expat
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Range/endurance is a factor of speed and weight. Lighter F35 cruising could stay aloft for longer.

Peter S
Peter S
23 days ago

I have asked before: what problem is the Tempest supposed to solve? We have stealth in F35 and Mach2 strike and air combat in Typhoon. I can think of only 2 reasons to fund this project:
Cost. F35 and Typhoon are expensive to buy and operate. Tempest must be more affordable or no one will buy it.
Range. F35 and Typhoon are relatively short range without air to air refuelling. A longer range stealth aircraft would add to existing capabilities. So a larger platform looks likely.

captain p wash
captain p wash
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

But, you could ask the same question ever since the Wright Brothers first took flight…..I guess a quick and short answer would be “Progress”.

TrevorH
TrevorH
22 days ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Yes i was going to say that

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Tempest is solving the long range strike and air-supremacy problems. The Eurofighter is indeed a capable aircraft but we are looking to its successor that will be phased in as the existing second tranche airframes wear out and need replacing. The F-35 is stealthy but it doesnt have a great range and pretty low payload capacity particularly in a stealthy internal stores only configuration. Im expecting Tempest to carry at a minimum the same weapons weight and volume as on the Typhoon but entirely internally. Theres an opportunity to build an aircraft from the ground up with the communication capacity… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
22 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

I hope the RAF will stick to developing Tempest primarily as an air superiority fighter. It will have a secondary ground attack capability but it would be a mistake to try to give it a long range interdiction/strike role too. The two roles call for different aircraft designs and capabilities. The F-35 is the interdiction/strike aircraft for the next 30 years and will be progressively updated in engine power, range, loyal wingman etc. Tempest needs to be a larger, more powerful, longer range version of Typhoon, which, as said above, was compromised by partners wanting a smaller multirole aircraft. Basically,… Read more »

Pete
Pete
22 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Wouldn’t it be interesting if long range temporary tanks on F35 were themselves a simple homing drone that disconnected and flew home when payload had transferred. The F35 then proceeded to target area again in Stealth mode …must stop drinking.

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
22 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

While I agree with you about the radar, it is interesting to note that the present long overdue update to the Typhoon radar is being pushed well beyond what will go on to German/Spanish Typhoons specifically because it is part of the development towards the Tempest radar fit. Beyond my pay grade to comprehend how this and the concept of various small panels distributed around the frame can be achieved, if anyone can elaborate on whether/how the present radar work and that ideal destination can be eventually achieved it would be fascinating to read. Or would it need fundamental changes… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Tempest is to potentially replace Typhoon. Because it will be getting on for 40 years old.

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

1- Typhoon will be life expired by 2035/40.

2- Nimrod has finally taught us that rebuilding old aircraft is a stupid idea that doesnt work and costs a fortune.

3- Typhoon isnt stealthy. F35’s stealth is 1990s/early 2000s based. Adversaires have and will move on from that.

4- Typhoon was compromised by the partners and too small thus lacks the range desired.

5- Tempest will integrate with new UAVs by design rather than trying to bodge that into 1980/90 or 90/00s avionics.

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

I agree that increased range would be a big benefit. Germany has ordered new build Typhoons which will serve beyond 2040 and we could do the same- I’m not suggesting trying to patch up older airframes. The US is still producing new F15s and F16s, both older designs than Typhoon. The big challenge will be making Tempest affordable. The development costs of F22 and F35 have been enormous, way beyond anything U K and partners could fund. Much of this cost has been incurred on software especially sensor and weapons integration. The Tempest project looks to be aiming for even… Read more »

Karl
Karl
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Agree with you. The Germans and the US are accepting that costs cannot be justified. Tempest sadly I feel will end up another British pipe dream swallowing billions. We have a history of “balls ups” so why change? Partnerships with Japan and South Korea and even India make more sense. We have some really valuable expertise and operational experience to offer partners, they in turn can offer scale of economy as production runs will invariably be larger. Typhoon has “legs” for decades to come.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

I can think of only 2 reasons to fund this project:”

3rd reason. Fund the fat cat companies into which much of the MoD budget disappears, for benefit of shareholders. Decade from now Tempest cancelled or reduced, MoD cut again.

Feeling cynical tonight, sorry!

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago

We’ve seen it before. I really hope you’re wrong.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

So do I. I stand up for the positives and there are high tech assets we have that others don’t that drain the budget but you still wonder with a huge budget we have just where it disappears to and how little we get. Deterrent in core obviously the big elephant there.

Karl
Karl
22 days ago

Think your honesty is refreshing. After all corruption has
many faces.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

You partially answered your own question. Cost. Time and again at the 2018 launch the RAF and BAES both stressed the need for low cost, helped in part by extensively leveraging existing avionics systems from Typhoon through spiral development. The RAF don’t want to just maintain numbers, they want to increase them. That only happens through tight purchase and operating cost control. Hence the rapid development cycle to reduce development cost. Also not gold plating the solution by, for example, pursuing state of the art expensive radar stealth solutions. Range. A larger platform, but possibly with saddle tanks from the… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago

Can it really be achieved though? The Boeing/Saab T7A development programme was quite rapid and the per aircraft cost is by modern standards quite low. Much of the was achieved by using existing technology on what is a far less ambitious design than Tempest. I believe that technically the aim is achievable. I am much less confident about its affordability. If that isn’t achieved, we risk spending £bs on an exquisite demonstrator in a rerun of TSR2.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Well there are no guarantees. However, T7A demonstrated the merits of rapid development, FGAD and Tempest seem to be committed to this rapid development approach. The French-German FCAS seems a bit less aggressive but still relatively rapid by historic standards. So I suspect everyone sees the writing on the wall regarding costs. While “spiral development” is a bit of a cliche, it is likely that much of what will go into Tempest in terms of sensors, defensive aids, weapons systems and perhaps significant amounts of software will have been developed to continue upgrading Typhoon, helping to de-risk and prove the… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
22 days ago

Absolutely agree on the importance of the project and the serious implications if it isn’t a success. That’s what is worrying me.
The involvement of Saab and Aeralis does imply a T7A influenced approach will be adopted. So at most cautious hope.
Cheers

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Hi Peter,

I would also suggest two other reasons. The main reason being that by the time Tempest gets into service the Typhoon will be nearing the end of its operational life. Also, I think there is an increasing realisation within political circles that our defences have been rundown to a dangerously low level. Hopefully the recent review will not be the last uplift we will see over the coming years (COVID not withstanding). As such another reason for the project would be an increase in numbers in the coming decades.

Cheers CR

Steve
Steve
22 days ago

Its interesting that the reply didn’t mention Tempest, they are leaving their options open.

I really can’t see Tempest ever being ordered due to costs involved in such a large project, but you never know.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
22 days ago

So is there any possibility of us getting ahead with maritime drones or has that opportunity gone by now?

Andy a
Andy a
22 days ago

So why are we developing 2 drones with 2 teams,? Mosquito and vixen? Would it not be far cheaper to develop 1 with Boeing Australia? Are there differences between them?

TrevorH
TrevorH
22 days ago
Reply to  Andy a

One land, one naval.

Adrian Cockerill
Adrian Cockerill
22 days ago

I think it’s a good decision, we cannot afford a fighter that’s all things to all people, look at the F35. More likely to carry through if we’re creating a replacement for the typhoon alone but I’m still betting on cancellation if I’m honest

John Hampson
John Hampson
22 days ago

All the eggs were well and truely put in the F-35 basket for the QE and PoW carriers.There have been veherment supporters of the F-35 posting on here for years, who strongly “dismissed” those who voiced concerns. The mounting evidence is that their naive acceptence of the sales pitches was misplaced. The UASF said they would never buy a non stealth aircraft, such was their belief in the F-35. Now not only are they buying F-15’s but the US is about to buy an essentially F-16 updated to 4.5 gen. We now have a 6th gen aircraft in the air… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

On the contrary – F35 has been a huge success. All those who said it was awful, that we’d be better with Super Hornets, that its cost would never come down – now look like the backward looking small minded twerps they always were. When the Spitfire first flew they’d have been demanding the RAF bin it and go unto WW2 with the tried and trusted (but vaguely “improved”) bi-planes. There are 100s and 100s in service, its “issues” are no different to any complex aircraft (and look at early Typhoon & F22 experience to see the exact same stuff),… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Not that I take everything Lockheed say as gospel but they have delivered over 645 F-35s as of earlier this month. That number exceeds Eurofighter deliveries so far and may also exceed Super Hornet deliveries to date. We should be so lucky as to have Tempest “fail” by only selling so many.

https://www.f35.com/content/dam/lockheed-martin/aero/f35/documents/F35FastFacts5_2021.pdf

John Hampson
John Hampson
22 days ago

See reply to Rogbob.
One point, so far it is estimated about $1Trillion has been spent on the F-35 program so far. For the 645 aircraft that works out at $1.55 billion per aircraft. The F-35 was originally conceived as an affordable replacement for F-15,16 +18’s and A-10’s.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
21 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

That is not accurate. The $1 Trillion to $1.7 Trillion numbers thrown about are estimates for the entire life time costs for the US forces. So for starters that would be based on the US forces plan of record for 2,456 F-35s of all variants. It would also be over the planned 50-year life, including all the operating costs. It might also be assuming no significant improvement in operating costs, something that Lockheed is under significant pressure to improve. There are plenty of things to criticise the F-35 program for. Its slow and buggy software development, its flight and support… Read more »

John Hampson
John Hampson
21 days ago

I accept the cost so far seems incorrect. The actual spend on the program so far does not appear available from a reliable source. The quote was from a site called Quora. That said the original program was intended to provide an affordable, low cost fighter. It has blatantly failed to do this. I refer you to an analysis by POGO. ” Selective Arithmetic to Hide the F-35’s True Costs.” publishished 21-Oct-2020.This group describe themselves as, “The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power” The analysis concludes with… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
20 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Do you realise you’re quoting the POGO link I provided to you back at me? As to the estimated cost of $201 million. Well we’re down from your earlier estimate of $1.55 billion per aircraft. If we keep going at this rate they’ll be giving them away with cornflakes. More seriously, yes, the F-35 has failed to deliver an aircraft at F-16 procurement and operational costs. It doesn’t take away from the fact that F-35 is still the most advanced fighter flying. Would we like that fighter at F-16 prices and operating costs … absolutely, should we keep pushing Lockheed… Read more »

John Hampson
John Hampson
22 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Are you referring to this twerp? USAir Force chief of staff General Charles Q. Brown. The US Airforce magazine ( Feb 21) reported why the USAF is now looking to buy a F-16 replacement. , he admitted, ” The F-35 program has failed to achieve its goals. There is, at this point, little reason to believe it will ever succeed.” Forbes ( Feb23 21) also reported Brown’s comments in its article entitled: “The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed.” The article examines why the USAF is not just buying F-15’s again but why it is… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

If the name fits then yes. Or we could say “head of Air Force with desperate drive to fund a new tactical fighter generation has to diss the current one as insufficient for his plans”. Or even “air force has to blame the plane (which it was deeply embedded with from the outset) rather than spend money on boring things like parts and tools to get the most from it”. Or “we dont want to look at how we support and operate it because that raises troubling questions about our effiiciency generally, noting LM could run a squadron for about… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
21 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

People read too much into USAF head’s comment. He certainly didn’t say F-35 is a failure as some headlines like to characterise it, only that it failed to meet its goals. But claiming he said it was a failure, rather than the more nuanced reality, gets more clicks on websites. What F-35 “failed at” was achieving F-16 levels of purchase and operating costs. Which is hardly surprising given the complexity and capability of its systems, the maintenance costs for maintaining stealth, along with the requirement for three different aircraft from the same design, to highlight just three factors. Its also… Read more »

John Hampson
John Hampson
21 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

I accept the cost so far seems incorrect. The actual spend on the program so far does not appear available from a reliable source. The quote was from a site called Quora. That said the original program was intended to provide an affordable, low cost fighter. It has blatantly failed to do this. I refer you to an analysis by POGO. ” Selective Arithmetic to Hide the F-35’s True Costs.” publishished 21-Oct-2020.This group describe themselves as, “The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power” The analysis concludes with… Read more »

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
22 days ago

The MOD has probably added to any confusion by using the name Tempest for both the manned fighter and the overall programme, which includes the smaller unmanned craft.

dan
dan
22 days ago

Smart decision since requiring an F-35B forced so many design compromises on the F-35A/C versions. If there wasn’t a STOVL requirement the F-35 would have been like a single engine, mini version of the F-22.

Ex-Service
Ex-Service
22 days ago

Idiots, plane (sic) and simple.

Advisers / analysts who are advising that the next generation (6) FAA fast air assets will be solely unmanned should be sacked (and never re-employed).

Given the early concept and design phase of Tempest, it would be relatively simple to add the carrier capabilities into the requirements and design it as such.

This ‘decision’ is very short sighted and consigns the FAA into a ‘choice’ between American or French carrier jets (although the later is not really a choice when you analyse it – for STOVL AND CTOL – capital and intended).

Rogbob
Rogbob
22 days ago
Reply to  Ex-Service

No it wouldnt be simple to add the carrier capabilities. Look at the F18 vs F16 and F35C vs A to see what the difference is (see also F14 vs F15). Look at Rafale vs Typhoon, if you know any truth about them. For starters. Larger control surfaces for low speed approach, much heavier airframe to handle the take off and carapult loads. All that eating weight and performance so it becomes sluggish vs purely land based. Pointless for a handful of jets and will probably derail the Franco-German project. Far more sensible to build something more widely usable, and… Read more »

Ex-Service
Ex-Service
21 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

In reply, it is mistake to think that adding the requirements at this stage is not simple, especially in a complex project such as Tempest and also given the likelihood this will be the only (optionally manned) jet aircraft development funded by the UK MoD – The implications been clear in regards to a manned F-35B replacement for the FAA (i.e. having to be a second-string purchaser to whatever the USMC purchase for their large deck LHA/Ds). I should further articulate just to be clear, my original post did not propose multiple versions of Tempest (aka F-35A-F-35C), I wrote add… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
18 days ago
Reply to  Ex-Service

Ok so I agree it is simpler in a “dont go backwards and redo sense” but it is absolutely not simpler to have requirements for land and sea that are in places conflicting. Having carrier compatibility requirements in would have a negative effect on the Tempest aircraft by requiring it to be able to do things that very few Tempests will ever do. In an already incredibly constrained and challenging design space that makes no sense. Especially as the UK carrier mode is STOVL and brand new. If anything it’ll be Tempest’s successor generation that replaced F-35B so there isnt… Read more »

Steve
Steve
22 days ago

All the talk of unmanned makes me wonder if they will ever happen for fighter jets. The key issue I see is that politically its going to be hard to have a fully automous weapon. Which means you need a remote pilot like the reaper’s use. The issue with remote pilot is lag on the signal and that can’t be resolved due to physics. As such the manned jet will be able to make decisions faster and therefore in theory be able to shoot first. All things being equal (peer warfare) who ever reacts first wins.

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago

The answer was carefully crafted to avoid saying that Tempest will never, ever perform the maritime combat role.

However this article and the ensuing comments assume that it did. Bit silly really.

steve
steve
22 days ago

If the Tempest and F 35 s could be the last manned jet fighters in service with our armed forces i take it the unmanned drones fighters would cost a lot less and we could have a lot more land based and sea based how ever would that mean that a new carrier would be required for that purpose like what turkey has been talking about a drone carrier and that would be a mother ship for them does any body know the cost of these drone fighters per item etc,

Lionel
Lionel
21 days ago

I think this is the best choice. Every indicator is that future manned fighters should be larger than the current generation, and even if our carriers had cats and traps the size / weight limitations would be restrictive. I don’t know how large Tempest will end up but this way it can at least be unhindered by naval requirements. I’m not a F35-basher, I think F35b is the best (realistic) choice right now for our carriers, but there are clearly limitations with F22 and F35 that the Americans themselves are now coming to terms with when facing up against serious… Read more »

Iain Douglas mcmillan
Iain Douglas mcmillan
21 days ago

Build them all

Nic
Nic
19 days ago

Why did they not include cats and traps in the initial build of the Queen Elizabeth class . If they had,it would have made them available to more aircraft than just F35 .

John de Ramer
John de Ramer
17 days ago

I don’t see why electro-magnetic cats and traps should be too expensive considering all the research that has gone into rail guns. That technology should be well-developed and applicable.

SD67
SD67
8 days ago

Subtext / Translation

“No we are not under any circumstances merging this with the French”