Preliminary data released by BAE Systems has claimed that the economic importance of the UK’s future combat air programme (Tempest) will be significant – predicting it will support an average of 20,000 jobs every year from 2026 to 2050.

BAE Systems, on behalf of Team Tempest partners, commissioned PwC to carry out an independent analysis of the economic impact of the Tempest programme. The full report is due for publication before the end of the year.

The Tempest programme is being delivered by Team Tempest, a UK technology and defence partnership formed by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA, Rolls-Royce and the RAF, and involving hundreds of high-tech companies, SMEs and academia across the UK.

The firms advertise the project as one of the UK’s most ambitious technological endeavours, designed to deliver a highly advanced, adaptable and affordable military combat air system which will play a key role in the nation’s defence and security.

According to BAE Systems here.

“Along with meeting a major military requirement, the programme is expected to deliver significant benefits to the UK over its full lifetime. It will preserve sovereign capability whilst investing in highly skilled jobs, with a specific focus on young people, developing technology and infrastructure, and will support the wider economy and long-term prosperity of the UK. The data released today represents the preliminary findings of an independent analysis by PwC on the economic contribution at the initial stages of the multi-decade Tempest programme, covering the period up to 2050. A full report will be available by the end of the year.”

The preliminary findings reveal:

  • The Tempest programme will contribute at least £25.3bn to the UK economy in the first 30 years alone. This figure excludes the significant impact of R&D spillover and the important role Tempest plays in securing the critical UK combat air industrial sector and its associated economic benefits.
  • For every £100 of direct value added generated by the Tempest programme partners, £220 of GVA (direct, indirect and induced) is estimated to be created across the UK economy.
  • The programme is forecast to support an average of circa 20,000 jobs every year between 2026 and 2050. For every 100 workers employed directly by the Tempest programme partners, a further 270 are estimated to be employed across the UK economy (direct, indirect and induced).

This initial analysis looks at the period of programme development, production, entry into service and early support, but does not include the full potential of export opportunities, R&D investment or the value of the programme beyond 2050.

Michael Christie, Director, Combat Air Acquisition Programme, BAE Systems, commented:

“Tempest is an exciting and ambitious multi-decade programme that will help to preserve our national security whilst at the same time driving significant economic benefits for the UK. The initial analysis revealed today demonstrates that Tempest is critical to ensuring the UK can sustain its world-leading Combat Air Sector, preserving the sovereign capability that is essential to retaining military freedom of action for the UK.”

BAE also say that Tempest is a beacon to attract engineers and technicians and a place for young people to build their careers. There are currently 1,800 people employed across UK industry and the MOD, a number that is set to increase to 2,500 next year.

ADS Chief Executive, Paul Everitt, said:

“The Tempest programme is essential for our national security and future prosperity. The high value design and ground breaking engineering skills required for success will create a new generation of talent to drive UK industry. Defence programmes like Tempest offer an invaluable opportunity to secure a recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis. It will embed high-value design and manufacturing skills in the UK for decades to come, sustain thousands of high paying jobs and give apprentices the opportunity to build their career in an iconic programme with massive export potential.”

It is important to note however that the draft report referenced was prepared only for BAE Systems and solely for the purpose and on the terms agreed with BAE Systems. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP insist that they accept no liability “including for negligence” to anyone else in connection with the draft report.

“Any content that is referenced from the draft report is subject to change between now and the issue of the final version to BAE Systems (Operations) Limited.”

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George Royce

What an incredible opportunity. It could be ground-breaking. But I hope the Tempest won’t look as it does in the photos we see so far. We should go with finless designs, flying wings in a triangular shape kind of like the Taranis. We could implement the airflow system seen in the BAE Magma as well. Also, using Reaction Engines precooler tech, we could go Mach 3. All exciting stuff, now all we need is government funding and willpower to see it through. Many people saying this will be the modern TSR2 debacle, but I hope Brexit will focus minds. We’re… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by George Royce
Steve R

It may lool something like that but more refined. Most prototype planes undergo some changes when made into production models.


Design will not be locked down for a while until certain technologies are matured. In regards to the magma tech, take a look at all the renderings of tempest. None show any control surfaces.


Sadly, it all depends on the USA if this project is allowed to reach fruition. Just as with TSR2 the UK can not beat the big plane makers of the US, in the game of worldwide sales. The political pressure would be too much to simply dismiss, especially if trade and military ties are to strengthen over the coming years. Making planes for the RAF and a few other customers might be all that Tempest can achieve, even if it is the best on the market. Nothing changes, especially now we are out of the EU. The Typhoon survived due… Read more »


Is everything that ever happens the US’s fault? Reality is the problem with Tempest. The UK doesn’t have the financial resources to proceed with Tempest. A nation that can’t find the money to outfit its aircraft carriers with fighters and upgrade its increasingly out of date tanks is going to find the money for a sixth generation airplane? Let’s get real. Teaming with a bankrupt Italy to produce insufficient numbers of an airplane to compete in a world market that will have a Franco-German airplane, a Chinese airplane, and a Russian airplane, not to mention an American one is not… Read more »


I don’t agree with your view on this one. Of cause the US isn’t to blame for everything, however, a successful development of Tempest would ring alarm bells in Washington. Billions are to be made in this industry and the UK is more than capable of producing a world beating aircraft. Sadly, the politics are no different today as they were at the time of the TSR2, and Britain needs the US on side and not a bligriant competitor.

Steve R

That’s assuming that the US Government don’t do what they did with the F22 and ban international sales. If their Gen 6 aircraft is is so advanced that they dont want anyone else to have it, that removes one obstacle.

Or if it’s prohibitively expensive. Even if the F22 wasn’t banned for export there wasn’t really anyone else who could have afforded it.

Peter S.

Why have BAE and partners commissioned this report now? I imagine this is preparation to ask for large amounts of public funds and remove financial risk from BAE. Britain cannot afford another defence money pit and for those who bemoan the cancellation of TSR2, it is worth remembering that its costs were out of control. I wonder if there is a better way to sustain a UK military aircraft industry. Competing for export sales with top end US products will be difficult. But there must be a large market for somewhat less advanced aircraft that are easier to maintain and… Read more »

Paul T

From what i have read the Typhoon Programme has cost the UK Taxpayer something around £20 billion,id like to know how much it has earned the UK Govt in return,then surely a judgement can be made as to whether a Project of this size is Financially Viable.

Robert Blay

That’s the trick, it’s easy to say Tempest will put 25 billion into the economy, but if it cost 25 billion to fund in the first place, then not so good. Typhoon cost well over 20 billion, so what’s the price tag going to be for a 6th gen.

Peter S.

Our history of costly projects cancelled before full production must make us wary. As has been observed, if £20b is spent wholly in UK, and there are no export orders, nothing is gained. Except we will not have to spend £xb on presumably US equivalents. 200 aircraft at £100m each is of course £20b. This at least would be break even for UK plc. My earlier point was that aiming for something more like the F18 might offer more export possibilities with a much lower development cost.


Apart from maintaining a sovereign defense capability, the staff employed all pay tax and all spend money paying even more tax. The businesses they spend their money with also pay tax so I’m sure it pays for itself eventually. 2% of our GDP on defense spending is pretty miniscule, I get more upset at the money we piss away on squandered projects like Nimrod, than I do with the ones we deliver successfully, usually when they are over budget it’s because the original budget was pure fantasy.


By that logic, why not spend £200B on it?

Hell, let’s dump in £200T and make all of us rich!


In 2018 the UK exported £14bn of military equipment, 96% of the total that year was connected to the Typhoon due to the Qatar export deal.


We are developing 6Gen because everybody else has F35 5Gen, which we had to sell to them because it was so expensive to develop. Naturally we will have to sell 6Gen as well otherwise we won’t be able to afford it. Does it have anything to do with defence anymore or is it just about jobs?


Most of the anti-Tempest noise emanates from China & Russia. Of course the UK can afford it’s development just as the UK could have afforded the development of TSR2.

Typhoon, which is primarily a UK design, has generated a lot of exports. As did Hawk & Harrier before it. The UK military aerospace industry is highly successful and contributes a great deal to the UK economy.


I think the Tempest project should be designed and implemented not only with the existing UK, Italian and Swedish requirement, but must look at the USN requirements for a 6th generation fleet air defense fighter. By this I mean the technologies that will go into the aircraft must make an attempt to meet the USN. If done I believe a modified version of Tempest might “tempt” the USN to join the program and thus allow for larger sales and thus spreading of the unit cost meaning lower priced aircraft. This is not so farfetched considering that BAE has been trying… Read more »

Steve R

The US Navy will never go for it. It’s a rare thing that the US military purchase anything that isn’t built in the US. When the USMC bought the Harrier it was licence-built in the US. So it would add a little more to BAE profits but not generate much in the way of economic benefits. Better options to look at would be Canada, Australia and maybe Norway as development partners. Or possibly India, now that their co development of the SU57 with Russia has fallen through. Export customers could include any of the above, plus UAE, Saudi and Bahrain.… Read more »


All sounds very positive, but it assumes a successful project and whether Tempest is a success or not doesn’t have as much to do with the tech that goes into the system, but on the quality of the Project Management and a stable requirement / specification. The design and development contract should have a clear unabiguous clause that stops requirement creep when it is signed a la the Type 31 Frigate (see Save the Royal NAvy article). Now if you want a system that is an export success as well then you need to make sure that the RAF does… Read more »