The UK and Sweden have 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.

91 COMMENTS

  1. This is fantastic news.

    I think The UK and Sweden could become a superpower in combat aircraft design and manufacture if they really work at it.

    I do think that we should be working more with countries like Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Japan and Korea. They all bring something to the party and make for very good partners.

    • You are bang on! The past protocols for building collaborative military fighter aircraft solely with the (ostensively) EU countries, will soon not apply. SAAB have proved time and time again that they are a capable builder and a closer union with Sweden makes good sense. A tie-up with BAE could bolster the Swedish aerospace business for many years to come?

      Global Britain.

    • This is great. Lets make a prototype by using the current euro-fighter and re-use as many parts as possible and add a BAE Replica style low radar frame and then we can decide who wants to build what parts/where UK, SWEDEN etc. Re-use as many of the systems as you can from the current Typhoon so that existing armies can use existing stock of spares EJ200 engine etc. You could even make the cockpit a replaceable module so if you wanted to later make it without a pilot you can swap in and put in an autonomous “pod”. You then have a ready supply of customers that can use this as an upgrade path, Saudi, etc even our German cousins. It is also cheaper for us as we can use our existing parts as spares in the new fighter.

      If we want to make a twin engine (UK) and single engine (SWEDEN) fighter then so be it. Just use the same components.

      • Unfortunately, I’m going to have to shoot you down on that one. An aircraft isn’t like a ship or (to a lesser extent) a tank, where leaving capacity open for future upgrades has no or very few negative effects on the platform. An aircraft however, especially a modern stealth fighter, needs to be built for purpose right from the start.

        The F35 is a great example of what happens when you make standardising components more important than combat performance: you get a flawed design. In the case of this 5th gen Typhoon you’re suggesting, it would need a relatively huge fuselage to accommodate whichever engine customers wanted, with negative impacts on stealth, weight, and structural integrity.

        • Yes, correct. I am advocating picking one engine (say the current euro fighter one) and going with that along with as many components as we can re-use from the existing eurofighter programme. Similarly for Grippen components. I would advocate building 1 design (twin engined) but if there is the need for both again use the same principle, re-use .

          You have a large inventory of parts that you can then re-use making the programme cheaper and also you have a ready installed base of customers, again with a spare parts inventory, which make it more likely they will choose it as their next replacement.

  2. Very very interesting! SAAB coupled with BAE = Gripen + Typhoon 5th Gen fighter. Could well be a world beater!

  3. Would they still be interested after we pump them tomorrow afternoon though?

    If they are then yes what a great bit of news.

    Also this collaboration has been mentioned by a few posters on here recently as yesterday by Chris H and others if I believe.

    This just proves to people who try take the p**s when people have valid suggestions and great ideas that some of them do actually happen.

  4. One big disparity between the UK and Sweden is that Sweden will undoubtedly want a single engine layout, as their fighter will normally be based in Sweden and flying close to their own country. The UK on the other hand will favour a twin engine aircraft as it will more likely be flying and fighting in expeditions around the world, over large expanses of ocean and possibly even from a carrier.

    • Highly unlikely to be going from a carrier…

      I also doubt Sweden would be against a twin engine fighter if it fulfilled their requirements.

      • Decisions, decisions. Canada and Japan would both prefer twin engines and greater range (therefore larger air frame), Turkey and Sweden would prefer single engine with range less of an issue as they have completely different operational requirements. Sounds like BAE should collaborate on both projects where there can be significant technology overlap but both teams produce different air frames.

        • Not really sure the number of engines is totally a range issue. The Grippen, Eurofighter and F16 all have similar ranges. The single engine keeps costs down as long as you do not need the extra thrust. If you need to carry a lot of weaponry then you need extra thrust. Grippen was designed to both fulfil Swedens need and put it in a niche that would enable it to compete with Typhoon for export orders. I am sure Sweden would be fine with a twin engine jet.

    • F35 is single engine, well, at least for horizontal flight…

      I think the days of needing two engines for reliability are gone.

      • F35 uses a single engine for both horizontal and vertical flight. The vertical lift fan is powered by a shaft from the F135 engine.

      • There’s no “message” to send. it’s not a “f… you” message as many of you seem to believe here. Fact is UK is still keeping the franco-german FCAS project as an option, at a later stage.

      • I still am amazed, given the utter Subles of the German military, that anyone would team up with Germany to build a next gen. France, seriously brave!

  5. (Chris H) – we have worked with SAAB on the Gripen and other projects and of course are now collaborating to deliver the Aussie Type 26 ships. Indeed the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen looks like a single engined cross between a Typhoon and a Rafale …..As I have said before the only issue I can see is that Sweden is militarily Neutral. That raises some issues in times of combat. But as long as they are acknowledged and contracted into some deal then I think it looks a great idea. ‘Typhoon II’ starts to take shape

    I would urge caution on those mooting a deal with the Japanese. Lovely people but they are totally locked into the US both in acquisitions and aerospace supply chains both militarily (they build their own F-35s while we don’t) and civilian (they build wings and other major parts for Boeing). Don’t think there wouldn’t be ‘bleed through’ of British technology to the USA when maybe we wouldn’t want it. And the Japanese aren’t averse to doing what the French did to us over Tornado, carrier and Typhoon. Its a hard world and we need to choose partners for what they offer us not what we can give them.

    And without opening Brexit sores – so much for EU companies not wanting to do business with us Brits ….

  6. Whatever happens in the future one thing is for certain, we should NOT go into any collaboration with the French or Germans on an aircraft development. All that will occur is technology transfer aka stealing of ideas, delayed project and development adding years and years to the aircrafts R+D stage, not to mention billions and billions onto the cost of R+D
    When the aircraft is then finally just about ready to order all orders will be reduced, curtailed or actually cancelled.
    I would go in with Japanese, Koreans and with Anglosphere nations making up the other contributors.
    So UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and call the aircraft the “freedom fighter”
    what’s not to like?
    Sweden could be involved but I think they would be after a light fighter with short range able to launch and recover from any straight road surface. Gripen and Vigen before were both designed from the outset to be able to be launched from straight sections of public road in the event of airbases being destroyed. The Swedish still practice this concept of early dispersal at time of heightened tension allowing their air force to have some considerable resilience to first 2-3 phases of an attack by Russia.

  7. Maybe the UK are looking at a single engine? Collaborations with Turkey and Sweden would possibly suggest an interest. Not that it would be an amazing idea mind you.

  8. In an ideal world Europe would get it’s act together and produce a 5th generation aircraft.

    Going back to 80s we could have produced a two pan European aircraft, one a twin engined and the other a single engined type to rival the US. I am sure the Germans would have been far happier with Saab 39 type aircraft rather than the Typhoon.

    But political and nationalist infighting, mainly the French, denied that opportunity. I suggest the same will inhibit any commonsense solution now.

    Anyway the F35 will dominate the global fighter market for the next 30 or so years by which time AI UAS platforms will take over.

    My opinion is that the UK should stick with the US.

    • (Chris H) – Mike Saul – I was with you until your last 2 paragraphs and then just could not agree less. The F-35 has limited capabilities as a weapon delivery system. it is a suppressing and sensor weapon in its own right and not a lot more unless you look at the B variant that offers all the operational flexibility the Harrier pioneered. The UK (and others) will always have a need for a QRA Interceptor which can switch roles to Ground Attack bomb truck. Better still if it can operate with the F-35. The best at those roles is the Typhoon. Better than anything the USA has but then they have the resources to have a specialist aircraft for each role and buy thousands of them. We cannot afford to engage in that philosophy let alone give up our major prowess in aerospace design and manufacture. The only thing we need to share is manufacturing for sales volumes.

      The F-35B gives us stealth, suppression and a supersonic Harrier and our capabilities are recognised by the US and hence our Tier One involvement. But the way we have been shafted over airframe and engine maintenance let alone no FAL deal while Italy and Turkey are handed sweet deals says we need to work with the USA but at arms length. And given Japan’s close ties with the USA we should treat them as part of the USA as far as aerospace is concerned.

      • Quite happy for you to disagree, time will tell.

        I believe F35 will see a production run of over 4000 aircraft spread over perhaps 40 years.

        I don’t believe anyone will be able to challenge it’s dominance of the fighter market.

        • The f-16 has had a 4500 production run and still going.

          While it has been the dominant global aircraft on those numbers, during that 40 odd year run there has been many new aircraft designed, built and exported.

          I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t go ahead fully with this, the F-35 having a 4000 production run is certainly not a reason going off recent history.

          • (Chris H) Mike Saul & SoleSurvivor – the only thing I can add to the big numbers thing is that the USA has committed its total advanced fighter production to one aircraft and locked in its two main aerospace combat companies into one programme: Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. OK BAE will also benefit but it does other things. Boeing isn’t really a fighter company, is not too good at even delivering commercial aircraft based military aircraft (KC-46) on time and to budget and failed to keep the McDonnell Douglas fighter business as a developing entity. It markets the F-15 and F-18.

            This is a long winded way of pointing out that there will always be a need for capable fighters / fighter bombers like the Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen but currently the USA has nothing in that area to offer. The Europeans are off on another ego trip trying to outdo the Yanks 20 years too late in a market that as you two rightly point out will be dominated by 3,000+ F-35s. Good luck with that ….

            So if BAE / SAAB get this right and do it quickly they have an open goal to play against (sorry WorldCupitis). These two companies have all they need in place right now in various projects and production. They need nothing from anyone else and just have to agree the engine specifications (1 or 2 or build two versions) and choice of radar. BAE Systems avionics are second to none and the F-35 owes most of its avionics software upgrades to British programming capabilities.

            4.5+ Gen fighters have a role to play given the restrictions on airframes that are fully stealth capable and a lot of current fighter / bomber airframes are coming to the end of their service lives in the next 15 years. Not everyone needs or can afford 5 Gen aircraft

        • The F35 is not suited to all roles. We will need a Typhoon replacement at some point and so this is a perfect opportunity to work with a trusted and like minded country with significant skills at building fighter aircraft. The F35 is great but it is truly amazing when linked with other types of aircraft (and ships etc). It is basically an armed targeting system for the rest of the assets.

          • Love idea of French and Germans working together French will take Germany’s money and built what they want and Germans will promise to order loads when workshare being negotiated then cancel almost all of them. They deserve each other !

    • I agree the TSR2 was one of the most beautiful aircraft ever flown.

      I suggest you read TSR2 Britain’s lost bomber by Daimen Burke. A great story well told.

      The RAF specified for an aircraft which was almost impossible for the UK industry to design and build then when the actual aircraft was finally flying turned round and said we want the F111 instead.

      A very sad story.

      • (Chris H) Mike Saul – In fairness to the RAF TSR2 wasn’t cancelled by them. It was the Labour Government that cancelled the project to save money and on the day it was cancelled announced orders for the F-111K.

        The rot had started earlier in ’63 when the RAAF decided to accept a ‘very good offer’ (for which read bribe to cancel TSR2) from the USA to buy F-111. Of course as soon as they placed the order the price increased (eventually to 3 times the contract price) and it took 10 years to deliver what turned out to be faulty aircraft.

        The killer was the Labour Government’s need for an IMF (?) loan which had to be supported by the USA. The price for that support? Cancellation of the biggest threat to US aerospace – TSR2. But they would of course supply F-111Ks. Except they didn’t as it was a clusterf**k of a failure at many times the cost of TSR2. Its why we ended up with Phantoms and ex RN Buccaneers in the RAF.

        As Sir Sydney Camm (designer of the Hawker Hurricane) was quoted in The Daily Telegraph as saying of the TSR-2:
        “All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right.”

        • I have studied the TSR2 project in great detail, I honestly believe that if Tories had won the 64 election they would have cancelled TSR2.

          By 1965, the cost of the project was too great and the RAF didn’t want it, the TSR2 had some problems in meeting the RAF specifications. Biggest was the navigation system didnt work accurately outside North West Europe which is essential if you are flying at low level.

          • I never need an excuse to get involved with a TSR2 debate. Like you Mike, I have researched the TSR2 program over many years and it’s a totally fascinating and rich subject.

            I had the opportunity to discuss the project once at some length with Jimmy Dell (project test pilot) when I met up with him to sign my copy of ‘Phoenix or Folly’, (one of the best TSR2 books) back in the early 1990’s.

            His insights we’re very interesting, particularly as the project had just cleared the major initial engine, landing gear and fuel leak issues and was ready to really get into gear, with two airworthy aircraft and a third to join the test program within weeks.

            The third aircraft XS221, was equipped with a good deal of the nav attack systems developed for the aircraft and in ground tests was reportedly running very well indeed.

            The Labour government had to cancel the whole business before these first three airframes proved beyond doubt what a superb aircraft it was!

            That said …. Labour can’t take all the blame. Governments since the war had allowed the deficit to build and build and you can say, with some justification, that TSR2 should never have been started ( in that form) under these economic circumstances.

            Still, a wonderful British aircraft and a tribute to the entire team who developed it.

            I would recommend all here to study the program and visit the surviving airframes at Costford and Duxford.

            There’s much to be learnt regards politics and procurement from this sorry story.

          • John, I to have seen the surviving TSR2’s at Duxford and Cosford. It is one beautiful aircraft, regardless of any technical issues.
            I also a TSR2 airframe at Shoeburyness in the mid70s. Unfortunately it was being used as a target to determine the affect of small arms ammunition on a modern airframe. Sitting as it was full holes sitting breeze blocks not a great sight.

        • Mountbatten sounded the death knell for TSR2 with the RAAf. He didn’t want the RAF in charge of our nukes. He favoured submarines and the navy to have sole responsibility. He bad mouthed the TSR2 at every opportunity.

          https://youtu.be/PhXcd-881xA

        • If you visit Brooklands museum. Take a look at the banking behind the aircraft sat outside. You’ll see a lot of the concrete mounds used to shape the fuselage. Some of these molds still have the lead on them. Thought they were funny bollards to begin with but there’s a small plaque explaining what they were used for.
          I also heard that the fit of the Olympus engine was incredibly tight and was loaded into the fuselage from the rear on rails, rather than slotted in.

  9. On another point we always lots of fanciful aerospace stories before Farnborough, none of them.amount to anything.

    My favourite was HOTOL the British space shuttle leaked just before Farnborough 1980. It came to nothing, just wishful thinking.

    • The HOTOL Project is still technically going. It is now called skylon and they have designed a truly amazing hybrid jet/rocket engine to go along with it. They have UK government funding and also some funding from ESA…

    • This is not true Mike. HOTOL is more active than its ever been but now under the aegis of reaction engines and known as SKYLON. It has backing from HMG, BAE, RR, esa and Boeing.

      Not bad for a dead project 🙂

        • The super Cooling technology is due to be tested very soon and it is this innate problem that was holding back the overall concept and if it passes the tests, will be the secret and the catalyst for the development of all manner of future aircraft, spacecraft launch vehicals, indeed even single stage spacecraft themselves based on the technology. If this comes off it will put the UK at the forefront of next gen aeronautics around hypersonic flight. The French and the Germans might well regret playing their nationalist games if this indeed comes off while the Sabre engine technology itself has almost endless additional possibilities to exploit.

    • While we are discussing TSR2, it’s interesting to note how quickly a national project can ramp up, unfettered by international pressure.

      Had the aircraft survived cancellation in April 65, there would have been 5 development machines flying by year’s end and all 9 would have been airborne by mid 66.

      When the TSR2 was cancelled, a large number of airframes were scrapped too. Not just the first 9 in various stages of assembly, but also the follow on pre production batch of 12.

      A tragic waste and I agree Mike, one of the most beautiful aircraft ever to grace the skys!

      Little known fact, XS220 was retained in a live state at Boscome Down and used in ground engine trials related to the ongoing Concorde program.

      So TSR2 was ‘technically’ a live program until the end of 66 when her Olympus engines were silenced forever..
      .

  10. F-35 is single engine and U.K. seems happy with that. This sounds interesting but don’t hold out much hope for it. Truth is unlikely to be another European fighter aircraft generation. Don’t think there is the will or the money to do one. And if there is, most likely to be French led. U.K. more likely to stick with F-35 and derivatives and follow whatever US does after that (as will Korea, Japan, Norway, Holland, Denmark, Israel, etc.)

    • Aero engine has come a long way in the past 40 years, reliability is almost 100%.

      Most commercial long haul flight are carried out by twin engine aircraft, most military operators can now use single engined combat aircraft whereas not so long ago twin engined would have been required.

      • (Chris H) – On the single vs twin engine debate I would just add its almost impossible for a single engined jet to maintain Supercruise capability for any decent range and it will be at lower speeds. And given Typhoon’s three main objectives are a) very high top speed, b) long range at high Supercruise speeds and c) high wing and weapon payloads this makes twin engine designs almost mandatory. We are also an Island nation so over sea operations are a given which again means twin engines. Its why Canada prefer them because of their near Arctic and ocean operating areas

        We can produce very powerful single engines as we proved with the F136 option for the F-35.

    • F-35 is not envisaged to be anywhere near a battle. The single engine is just fine. A Typhoon replacement would possibly be needed closer to the battle and might benefit from twin engines in case of battle damage to one of them.

      • “F-35 is not envisaged to be anywhere near a battle.”

        Someone gets it. The enemy will – literally – not see what hits them. Or they will see what hits them, but it won’t be an F-35 but another platform operating under the protection of out-of-sight F-35s.

    • They never tell us the ROE though, so as the article says..

      “Whereas the air superiority scenario has not been disclosed (therefore, the above mentioned kill ratio should be taken with a grain of salt, as always when it deals with mock air-to-air engagements”

      Plus it had F-22’s with it, now there is a true air superiority fighter.

  11. I find this announcement fascinating, as others have said BAE Systems have many fingers in many pies.

    Perhaps SAAB just want BAE to assist in a next gen Gripen type fighter in the same way as they had massive input into the Gripen.

    I t’s hard to ally the two countries requirements, medium compared with the light fighter.

    That said the superb Viggen wasn’t exactly small!

    So what could the common ground be, let’s say a single engine of about 40,000lb, single seat, tailless thrust vectoring close canard fighter, of about 28,000 lb, using maximum use of composite materials, with a generally low radar cross section, though not compromised too far by that limitation.

    Thrust better than 1to 1, so supercruise capability and about an 800 mile ROA.

    A relatively low wing loading, to give excellent agility and advanced wing design to also give good low level handling ( these things are always a compromise).

    A single large internal weapons bay, plus wing hardpoints, very advanced intergrated avionics and targeting systems, possibly including an airborne laser.

    There’s my recipe for an Anglo Swedish strike fighter to replace Typhoon and Gripen by 2035!

    We would need more partners to bring the numbers up and the unit costs down however.

  12. Good news indeed.

    I thought this was the right way to go as soon as the Franco-German love story blossomed. The combination of UK and Sweden is a dynamite one, both very capable designers / manufacturers / sellers. The other lot only have one.

    Most would agree three is too many European frontline fighters and one is not enough. So I would imagine an ideal pathway might be to create two variants of the same plane: one a BAE top-of-the-range twin engine, the other a single engine SAAB. Different capabilities, different markets and possible even a price differential similar to Typhoon / Gripen.

    There are, coincidentally, some common parts between the two existing planes (ejector seat springs to mind), but if commonality were designed from the outset (engine and avionics spring to mind), I see no reason why 55 – 75% couldn’t be achieved. I guess it would depend on the airframe.

    I don’t have the technical knowledge to support this idea and wouldn’t have put it forward were it not for the fact that it’s already been done by Dassault with the Mirage 2000 / 4000. Although that was the other way round (single engine first) and the 4000 never got beyond the prototype stage. But it flew.

    This combo has the ability to do to the SCAF what the Hawk did to the Alphajet. I’d get the Swedes to sign up soon, before the competition steps in.

  13. I would bet big money that the USA will have a 6th gen fighter in the air before Europe has their 5th indigenous 5th gen…

    • Interesting Farouk, going by the size of the cockpit, this looks like yet another design with limited weight and size for carrier capability.

      If the French insist in a carrier variant, then the whole (already unlikely) program will be fatally compromised in my opinion.

  14. It seems that the days of Stealth, at least in its current form, are very limited. Its not that we cant defeat stealth, we know how to, its just the technology to do so currently is still in its early stages. Give it another 10 years of radar development and I don’t think stealth will be all that stealthy anymore.

    If we are really going to look at our own fighter in combo with say Sweden we should be looking at what comes next, post stealth. UAV unless given complete autonomy wouldn’t survive an encounter with a manned fighter ( just like playing a FPS… lag is a problem one that cannot be overcome) so I really don’t think UAV fighters will ever play a role. It isn’t acceptable currently ( and I hope it never becomes acceptable) that a machine has full control of its weapons, targeting and weapon release. That is really the only way a UAV fighter bomber would work.

    The history of weapon development goes round in circles, the ideas remain the same, its the tech that changes. If we really are looking at a machine to be used in 30 years time then speed is going to be the big one and that requires a lot of work in material science to overcome the friction heating of the airframe, a lot of work in material science to have engines capable of producing the thrust required to attain higher speeds.

    The big one in air combat is energy, the one with the most energy has the best chance of winning. I really don’t think stealth will survive the next 10 – 15 years.

    • Stealth isn’t binary, its a continuum from less to more stealthy. It also isn’t just about radar detection. There will always be advantages in having aircraft with lower observability versus aircraft with similar operating characteristics that do not have this capability. It also isn’t static, with continuing improvements to reduce detectability.

      Similarly why assume that a UAV has to be completely autonomous? Why not hybrid operation where for example it automatically assumes autonomy over certain threats or opportunities and then switches back to man-in-the-loop for fire/launch decisions?

      Take your example of engagement with a manned fighter. I remain skeptical that we will see many if any of the close in dog fight type of engagements in future that your comment implies. However lets assume we do. In that case an autonomous UAV can be designed to automatically undertake maneuvers at such speed and rate of turn that a human opponent would black out in attempting to counter, i.e. sustained cockpit forces well beyond 10g. After executing such action the UAV then presents an opportunity for a human decision to either engage or withdraw from a position of superiority. The same extreme maneuver capabilities of a UAV will also help in providing a greater ability to counter missiles.

      • Great logic in what you say. A UAV can have a massive advantage over manned aircraft in terms of avoiding being hit and thus survivability. If it had the autonomy to attack any aircraft that fires upon it, that alone would be an interesting moral question but one that just might in the future be militarily acceptable depending on the opposition. Other additional protocols could be added but in many/most cases there is a very strong likelihood that it, or other assets, be they electronic or human connected to it, would know or be pre informed that an aircraft is deemed hostile and thus could engage if attacked. AI is in the relative stone age of its development at present but within 10 to 15 years could be at a level that’s difficult to imagine. Google is already demonstrating an AI (not totally verified as yet mind) that on first sight looks to be 15 years ahead of what I would have expected. It’s all going to get very controversial in the future especially in the military field. But as an example, if say China has a highly developed AI controlled vehical that has considerable autonomy without the moral limitations that the West would feel necessary then it is clear who would dominate the theatre of operations in the long term. So do we compete on that level?

    • (Chris H) Matt:
      Japan – Totally locked into the US aerospace industry as sub contractors and they only ever buy US aircraft. Absolutely by Constitution militarily Neutral

      South Korea – while they may be dis – chuffed with Trump right now they are also locked into the US arms supply machine as they depend so heavily on the US 7th Fleet

      Sweden – Always an excellent engineering and military equipment supplier. BAE already has major investments there. Militarily Neutral but this can be overcome

      Australia – In aerospace terms they are locked into US combat and tactical freight aircraft supply and have been for decades. Even their Wedgetail is based on US aircraft and equipment, the A330 MRTT being the one exception and is not a combat aircraft. Their Type 26 will use US AEGIS and other US combat systems

      Canada – Along with Sweden our very best option for co-operation. They are now very anti – USA in their foreign, trade and military purchase policies. They have outlined a need for exactly the sort of aircraft we and the Swedes need and can produce indeed they are even now seriously looking at Gripen. They also wish to regenerate domestic military aircraft manufacture although for us Bombardier is not an option sadly as they are now an arm of Airbus whose EADS owners and ‘Airbus Military’ now prefer EU based alliances. The Canadians do not need 5th Gen just very reliable and capable QRA and GA aircraft

      So provided we can negotiate round Sweden’s Neutrality I would see (and have advocated) an excellent opportunity. There is an evolving market for a UK / Sweden / Canada project or at least a UK / Sweden project that would find a welcome in Canada as well. Oddly enough a ship called the Type 26 could be the way of opening that Canadian aircraft sales door

  15. I very much like the idea of a link up with SAAB. They produce good combat aircraft and at a reasonable price.
    The argument about single engine compared to twin engines is both valid and mute. So lets look at it in a different way, what does the UK need to defend its coast plus some of its overseas areas of interest such as Gib, Falklands etc. Well to start with high rate of climb, high speed, a good air-to-air capability, highly maneuverable, it does not need stealth as it is not for deep penetration but if it could have it whilst keeping the cost done even better. It would need to work along side the F35.
    So basically a fighter/interceptor, this does not need to have range but agility so a single engine aircraft would be possible, even better if the design could could incorporate the swing nossel of the Harrier, not for take of and landing but for maneuvering. If the cost could be kept to a ratio of three-to-one of the F35 even better.
    Also this cheaper fighter/interceptor would release the expensive F35 and the older Typhoons to do there main task of deep penetration.
    With more time and development the new SAAB/BAE concept to have additional roles such as battlefield surveillance or ground support, but not ground attack as that is a different beast.

  16. To sum up, both BAE and Saab would be permanently capable of producing a superb aircraft between them.

    Is the will, money, exports prospects and combined requirements there ….?

    Possibly, the Gripen NG and Typhoon will reach the end of their sevice lives at approximately the same time.

    If the Swedes could be persuaded to move from light to medium, then there is a chance to fill a gap in the marketplace and build something really quite special.

    I sincerely hope so gents….

  17. Quite ironic that at the time when allegedly the EU countries don’t want / need us for Galileo or new fighters a leading EU economy is looking westwards to the UK for co-operation and manufacturing alliances for – a fighter aircraft. Bring them into the UK space programme as well I say.

  18. From some points of view this is a bit of an alarming development. An iScotalnd would need to get bangs for bucks, and over its lifetime a Gripen C/D capabale of taking Meteor, same as the Typhoon, or a n E/F is consideraby cheaper, perhaps half the cost. Maintenance is also a lot quicker and hence cheaper in fleet terms.

    if SAAB get involved in this the cost is likely to rise, and as I say, that’s bad news for a putative iScotland, and other countries needing to have very capable, perhaps very slightly less capable intercept and air superiority fighter jets.

    Swededn too would suffer from any relative price increase, but would be able to counter that with the economic spending in their economy.

    For the UK of course it’s a good move.

    • Jings what a mess, make that “needing to have very affordable” to make more sense, and who cares about the other typoos.

  19. A UK/Sweden/Japan/Canada project would be great. While Japan is usually tied to US designs, Trump could change that. His trade war with China could get Japan in the crossfire. Also his hot/cold dealings with North Korea, leave Japan out of the loop at key moments. If the Japanese get fed up, they may be open to a non US project for once.
    Don’t forget Italy. They now have a non EU elite government, that is tired of the Franco-German stitch up. They may take a small stake just to put two fingers up at Paris & Berlin.

    • A poster elsewhere has pointed out the US has often been isolationist and there is a lot of feeling that it should be so again. Well, I can sympathise with that, while wondering if it could afford its own defence program if it wasn’t for exports and parternship programs.

  20. I’m reminded of a satellite project called Galileo, are we not in the process of getting shafted over that project, were is the trust and loyalty when developing long-term projects that involve certain EU partners.

  21. Hi John Hartley, you could bring in the Australians as well on such a project. One mistake that has been made with F35 is that the UK can not manufacture the whole aircraft in the UK like the Japanese or Italians, this has hit us in the pocket when the GBP took a tumble during the Brexit trauma.
    Talking of Brexit, I’m not feeling the Love from the French or the Germans at the minute, as the UK government launch a white paper to cover a new relationship with the EU economic zone.

    Sweden never tried to shaft the UK during the Falklands war either; I like the Swedish, they are friendly folks who like the British. Furthermore, they don’t try and sell assault ships to the wrong countries. If the UK had been knocked out of the world socca cup, who would we have supported? I think it would have been the Swedish.

    Who can we trust the most over the long term?

  22. A couple of points Keith. Japan and Italy don’t manufature their F35’s, they assemble them from supplied parts kits.

    This pushes up the unit cost for them considerably.

    Re Sweden, totally agree. I would happily take them as a business partner over the French and Germans any day if the week.

    Perhaps we should tempt the Nordic countries to join us in a free trade zone. I don’t think it would take much for the EU sceptic Danes to join, add Sweden and Norway and we could all do very well. Balls to the rest!

  23. You can pretty much guarantee that France will want their aircraft to be CATOBAR capable. If you look at the current market for carrier capable fighter aircraft there aren’t that many. The F18, Mig 29K, Su33, J15, F35C and Rafale M.
    The F18, Mig29K, Su33 and J15 are all legacy gen4 designs and realistically have reached the end of their development lives. The Rafale M is mid way through and the F35C at the start. The F35’s unit cost is reputed to be about $120 million compared to Rafale’s of $105 million. Therefore France can see a gap in the market and it’s something that could complete with F35s. Maybe not in its stealth but unit cost, lower operating costs, agility and weapons load. I’m pretty certain the Franco/German effort will be a development of Rafale not a pure clean sheet.
    Back to our needs it’s requirements have mostly been stated. In reality a better more advanced Typhoon with a much lower IR and RCS signature. The EJ200 engine in its current guise has 25% untouched growth. However, there may be an engine that could challenge it. When Reaction Engines were developing their precooler, they used an Avon (I think) as the test engine. It significantly increased its max thrust. So a possibility would be to add a precooler to a developed EJ200 or perhaps fit the Sabre engine.
    The Sabre or Scimitar engine fitted to a fighter type aircraft would be a step change in capability. With the ability to fly higher and faster than pretty much anything currently available.
    Thoughts?

  24. Interesting points Davey.

    While I agree Typhoon has lots of untapped potential. It’s time to move on.

    We all need to move on to new clean sheet developments, it’s the only way for the design houses to stay in the game. After all, by 2030, the Typhoon/Rafael/ Gripen generation will be 5 decades old!

    The Chinese are forging ahead very quickly with rapidly advancing designs and some extremely capable engineering solutions.

    By 2030, they may well be out in front, based on their current rate of advancement.

    If European Companies don’t start on new advanced high end projects soon (whoever they collaborate with), they will be out of the fighter game for good, leaving the US and Chinese to square off against each other.

    I feel the Russians will fizzel out too, as money dries up and their economy crashes under Putin’s presidential grip.

    So post 2020, we ( the UK) need to look beyond F35 with a next generation project with a group that includes Sweden or the US, or perhaps both.

    Just not France and Germany please!

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