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The United Kingdom will unveil part of its Future Combat Air System (FCAS) sometime over the next five years when it flies a demonstrator for the first time.

The Project involves the UK Ministry of Defence and the Team Tempest industry partners, led by BAE Systems and comes as the UK deepens collaboration with Japan and Italy to build a combat air international partnership.

The announcement, made at the Farnborough Air Show, comes as the future combat air programme launches a new recruitment and skills initiative known as Generation Tempest, set to create thousands of new job opportunities across the United Kingdom.

The demonstrator aircraft is already in development by the Government and Team Tempest industry partners and the UK is actively progressing collaboration opportunities on the project with Italian industry partners.

“The design and development of the demonstrator aircraft represents an important milestone, showcasing the success and talent of our engineers,  programmers and software developers,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. “To support the programme, a series of measures to attract the brightest minds onto FCAS have been announced, including plans for a new Tempest Academy, joint recruitment and talent development between partners, and the launch of a new careers website. It is hoped that this initiative will create a ‘Generation Tempest’ who will bring their own unique ideas and experiences to the programme.”

The flying demonstrator will be a piloted supersonic aircraft testing a range of new technologies including integration of stealth compatible features. This is the first time the UK will have developed a new fast jet using 21st century technology.

Development of the demonstrator is underway at BAE Systems’ Warton facility in the north of England. The demonstrator is vital for ensuring British technology, skills and industrial capability are ready for the future, says the UK MoD. Designing and building the flying demonstrator will prove integration and test skills. It will also provide invaluable data and lessons to UK industry to support the introduction of a new FCAS aircraft from 2035.

The FCAS programme employs around 2,500 highly skilled people across the UK including at combat air sector industrial hubs in Scotland, the north-west and south-west of England. Team Tempest partners, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA UK, aim to hire an additional 1,300 early careers starters by the end of 2023.

Separately, the UK is now conducting joint concept analysis with close partners Japan and Italy to understand areas of shared interest and to explore potential Future Combat Air partnership options and continues to explore wider partnerships. Further decisions are expected to be made by the end of 2022. Like the UK, both Japan and Italy operate F-35 fighter jets and the nations have undertaken joint exercises together in the past.

“Rolls-Royce Defence has delivered a new gas turbine demonstrator engine, known as Orpheus, designed, built and tested in under two years to prove innovative technology developments for FCAS,” said UK Director Future Combat Air Richard Berthon. “Working with international partners, Rolls Royce have also agreed the next stage of the full-scale engine demonstrator programme.

“Leonardo UK and Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric have agreed the concept for a radar technology demonstrator called JAGUAR, first unveiled in February, following the completion of joint concept work and feasibility studies earlier this year,” he added.

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