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Just over a month after Europe gave the greenlight for the next phase of its Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) has moved its own FCAS system, Tempest, into the next phase. When ready, the system will work collaboratively with the systems developed by the U.K.’s allies, to deliver world-leading military capability, a press release, from BAE Systems, said. 

The FCAS program has evolved from the European Technology Acquisition Program (ETAP) that began in 2000, including the U.K. along with Italy, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and France. The current European FCAS program includes Germany, France, and Spain, each looking to replace its famed fighter jets between 2035 and 2040. 

However, the FCAS is not intended to include advanced fighter jets alone. Given the rapid strides, drones have taken in warfare in recent years, the FCAS is being developed as a System of Systems (SoS) that includes the use of drones as well as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. 

While Airbus, Dassault, and Indra will be heading the European project, the U.K.’s FCAS is being led by a multiparty team comprising of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK, and MBDA UK along with the Ministry of Defense. Reaffirming its faith in the team, the MoD awarded a 250-million pound contract to the team to begin the concept and assessment phase. During this phase, Tempest partners will design a range of digital concepts and evaluate them to determine the final design and capabilities of the program.  

Apart from delivering high-tech capabilities to U.K. Defense, the program is also expected to contribute £26.2 billion to the country’s economy while supporting 21,000 jobs and improving investments, innovation, productivity, and skills across the region, a PwC report suggested. 

“We are on track to deliver an ambitious program for the U.K., which will provide a highly advanced and sophisticated air defense capability, capable of countering future threats and safeguarding our national security and defense,” said Chris BoardmanGroup Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Air Sector. “The coming years represent one of the most exciting periods in the history of our industry and, as a team, we have a chance to be part of something genuinely historic, transforming the way we develop and deliver.”

With a European concept plane scheduled for 2025, there are some exciting times ahead, especially when Russian has unveiled its fifth-generation fighter.

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