Unmanned ‘force multipliers’ resulting from the Tempest programme might find their way onto the Queen Elizabeth class carriers, it has emerged.
Lord West of Spithead recently asked in a written question:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Ministry of Defence intends the Tempest programme to produce a carrier-capable solution.”
Earl Howe, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, replied:
“The F-35 is at the beginning of its service life and is the most effective and developed aircraft capable of Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carrier operations.
The combat air acquisition programme is looking at the replacement of Typhoon’s capabilities and any new combat air system will need to be interoperable with the Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) programme.
The concept phase of the acquisition programme will consider QEC basing for any unmanned force multipliers which may form part of the future combat air system.”
The US Air Force Chief Scientist in 2017 said that F-35 pilots will be able to control a small group of drones flying nearby from the aircraft cockpit in the air, performing sensing, reconnaissance and targeting functions.
With whatever results from Tempest being able to use swarming technology to control drones and the F-35 becoming capable of doing so, it is only logical that capability will come into use.