UK announces new $2.7 bln fighter jet project

UK announces new $2.7 bln fighter jet project

FARNBOROUGH-Reuters
UK announces new $2.7 bln fighter jet project

Britain’s Defense Minister Gavin Williamson unveiled a model of the country’s proposed new fighter jet named Tempest at the Farnborough Airshow on July 16, and said it would seek international partners to help develop the project.

The government said 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) had been earmarked to finance the project out to 2025 and that additional funding would be provided by its industrial partners on the project.

The aircraft, which will eventually replace the Typhoon fighter jet, will be developed and built by industrial partners BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defense company, alongside U.K. engine-maker Rolls-Royce, Italian defense firm Leonardo, and European missile maker MBDA.

Williamson was speaking at the Farnborough Airshow in front of a giant screen that was pulled away to reveal the sleek grey life-size version of Tempest, the cockpit window visible in its pointed nose, above a white underbelly.

Britain wants to find an international partner to help develop the jet, and Williamson appealed to the crowd packed with visiting military chiefs who were at the BAE Systems chalet to see the model.

“Our approach hinges on international collaboration,” he said.

Under the plans, the new jet will be operational by 2035, ready to replace the Typhoon fleet, which is due to be retired in 2040. The new jet will be able to be operated by a pilot in the aircraft, but will also have an unmanned capability.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the new plans earlier on July 16 when she opened the Airshow.

“I want to announce the publication of the U.K.’s combat air strategy, which confirms our commitment to maintaining our world-class air power capabilities,” she said.

The U.K.-led project comes as Britain is due to leave the European Union in less than nine months.

United Kingdom, fighter jet project, Tempest