UK FCAS moves to concept and assessment phase

The UK’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme, otherwise known as Tempest, has officially moved to the concept and assessment phase following the July 29 award by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) of a £250m (US$349m) design and development contract to BAE Systems.

The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest – comprised of the UK MOD, BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce. According to a BAE Systems release the concept and assessment phase contract will see the partners develop a range of digital concepts to design, evaluate and shape the final design and capability requirements of Tempest.

Tempest mock up
The Tempest effort is intended to deliver a sixth-generation fighter to the UK Royal Air Force from the mid-2030s. BAE Systems

During a visit to BAE Systems’ Warton site in Lancashire, Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence, said the announcement marked a “momentous step” in the programme.

Chris Boardman, group managing director of BAE Systems’ Air Sector, added: “The funding announced today marks a critical next step for the programme and, with our partners, we will work together to define the technical and capability requirements and develop the concept which will bring Tempest to life.”

The announcement was made on the same day that BAE Systems released its half-year results, detailing a group sales increase by 6% on a constant currency basis to £10bn and underlying earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of £1.028bn, representing a 27% increase.

Net debt, excluding lease liabilities stood at £2.745bn, compared to £2.718bn at December 31, 2020, while the order backlog across all business areas stood at £44.6bn, compared with £45.2bn at December 31, 2020.

According to BAE Systems, air domain highlights included the production of F-35 rear fuselage assemblies “ramping up to full rate levels”, with 70 assemblies completed in the reporting period. In the Electronic Systems segment over 900 F-35 electronic warfare systems have been delivered on the F-35 programme as of the end of H1 2021.

The corporate guidance through 2021 stated that there remained uncertainties arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and although a strengthening pound could have an impact on annual results, group sales were still expected to grow in the 3% to 5% range over 2020 figures.