Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
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mrclark303
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

Post by mrclark303 »

Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 06:32
tomuk wrote: 23 May 2024, 05:48
Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 03:08
tomuk wrote: 23 May 2024, 01:09
Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 00:12
In the event of the next election being won by Labour, I can see them going all in on Tempest or something similar as a demonstration of their commitment to the armed forces, much as they did with the QLZ carriers after 1997.
The 1998 SDSR supported looking at 30-40,000 tonne carriers. I wouldn't call it a demonstration of commitment to the armed forces.
And the Labour government that produced that SDSR ended up deciding the current carrier were the way to go. Who'd have thunk it? You appear to be suggesting that we should probably expect more from a future Labour government than their initial pledges.

That's got to be better than gapping maritime patrol and adding almost a third to the build cost of said carriers with a cockamanie scheme to convert them them to CATOBAR.
No, as I think as you already know from the tone of your post, I don't think the the 1998 SDSR was a commitment to the armed forces.

As to your comparison with 'the other guys', Nimrod was a sad disaster of a programme that was never going to work and the prevarication over catobar cost about £100m before wiser heads prevailed and the original STOVL config was returned to.

Is this what we're going to have to put up with for the next six weeks? Partisan posts from supporters trying to convince us that their party is good for defence when in reality it is far down the list of priorities of all the parties and the public.
I'm sure that I know from the tone of your post that you might need to remind yourself that the contract for the Nimrod MRA4 was awarded in 1996, under the Conservative government of the day. You may also want to reflect that its dramatic cancellation by the then Conservative government in 2010 led to a gap in the UK's maritime patrol capability and a desperate and expensive contract to purchase a small number of P-8.

As ever it's up to you whether you want to put up with discussion over the next six weeks or any other six weeks for that matter. ;)
I'm certainly not getting into which party is the worst, because they are both absolutely bloody awful....

Two socialist, big government parties with different flags....

But I have to point out that although MR4A was started under the Tories, all the work was carried out under Labour and it was a disaster to end all disasters.

Labour should have cancelled it in 1997, it was beyond obvious to programme insiders even at that early stage then that the rebuild was going to be far more substantial than first thought, it would have led to a fleet of bespoke aircraft that were in effect, all different from each other!

Each aircraft having a bespoke center wing box to match a specific fuselage, because they all differed in circumference!!!!

They didn't and that shit show rumbled on for years, wasting billions, before it's inevitable end in the smelter.

Each of the 9 aircraft would probably have required a separate air worthless certificate, as they were all different, it's utter bloody insanity it wasn't cancelled by 98 at the latest!!

That's 'squarely' on Labour, no shifting the blame there.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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mrclark303 wrote: 23 May 2024, 19:36
Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 06:32
tomuk wrote: 23 May 2024, 05:48
Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 03:08
tomuk wrote: 23 May 2024, 01:09
Pseudo wrote: 23 May 2024, 00:12
In the event of the next election being won by Labour, I can see them going all in on Tempest or something similar as a demonstration of their commitment to the armed forces, much as they did with the QLZ carriers after 1997.
The 1998 SDSR supported looking at 30-40,000 tonne carriers. I wouldn't call it a demonstration of commitment to the armed forces.
And the Labour government that produced that SDSR ended up deciding the current carrier were the way to go. Who'd have thunk it? You appear to be suggesting that we should probably expect more from a future Labour government than their initial pledges.

That's got to be better than gapping maritime patrol and adding almost a third to the build cost of said carriers with a cockamanie scheme to convert them them to CATOBAR.
No, as I think as you already know from the tone of your post, I don't think the the 1998 SDSR was a commitment to the armed forces.

As to your comparison with 'the other guys', Nimrod was a sad disaster of a programme that was never going to work and the prevarication over catobar cost about £100m before wiser heads prevailed and the original STOVL config was returned to.

Is this what we're going to have to put up with for the next six weeks? Partisan posts from supporters trying to convince us that their party is good for defence when in reality it is far down the list of priorities of all the parties and the public.
I'm sure that I know from the tone of your post that you might need to remind yourself that the contract for the Nimrod MRA4 was awarded in 1996, under the Conservative government of the day. You may also want to reflect that its dramatic cancellation by the then Conservative government in 2010 led to a gap in the UK's maritime patrol capability and a desperate and expensive contract to purchase a small number of P-8.

As ever it's up to you whether you want to put up with discussion over the next six weeks or any other six weeks for that matter. ;)
I'm certainly not getting into which party is the worst, because they are both absolutely bloody awful....

Two socialist, big government parties with different flags....

But I have to point out that although MR4A was started under the Tories, all the work was carried out under Labour and it was a disaster to end all disasters.

Labour should have cancelled it in 1997, it was beyond obvious to programme insiders even at that early stage then that the rebuild was going to be far more substantial than first thought, it would have led to a fleet of bespoke aircraft that were in effect, all different from each other!

Each aircraft having a bespoke center wing box to match a specific fuselage, because they all differed in circumference!!!!

They didn't and that shit show rumbled on for years, wasting billions, before it's inevitable end in the smelter.

Each of the 9 aircraft would probably have required a separate air worthless certificate, as they were all different, it's utter bloody insanity it wasn't cancelled by 98 at the latest!!

That's 'squarely' on Labour, no shifting the blame there.
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
The way I see it is that the 'constitution' of the proposed GCAP organisation is angled towards preventing scrutiny of the programme. That will allow for problems to be concealed and only become apparent when their scale can no longer be hidden. That is potentially disastrous for the GCAP programme. IMO the UK should not invest in the programme unless the proposed 'constitution' of 'GCAP Ltd' is altered to allow its backing governments proper oversight of the programme.

The proposed GCAP Ltd invites a Nimrod-style result a few years -and billions of pounds - down the line. Why on earth should this risk be taken? The object of developing Tempest is not to feed money to the UK MIC until the project is cancelled. It is to supply the RAF with a Typhoon replacement and to possibly earn BAE Systems and the UK tens of billions of pounds in export revenue.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Spitfire9 wrote: 24 May 2024, 12:06
Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
The way I see it is that the 'constitution' of the proposed GCAP organisation is angled towards preventing scrutiny of the programme. That will allow for problems to be concealed and only become apparent when their scale can no longer be hidden. That is potentially disastrous for the GCAP programme. IMO the UK should not invest in the programme unless the proposed 'constitution' of 'GCAP Ltd' is altered to allow its backing governments proper oversight of the programme.

The proposed GCAP Ltd invites a Nimrod-style result a few years -and billions of pounds - down the line. Why on earth should this risk be taken? The object of developing Tempest is not to feed money to the UK MIC until the project is cancelled. It is to supply the RAF with a Typhoon replacement and to possibly earn BAE Systems and the UK tens of billions of pounds in export revenue.
Don't see how you arrive at this conclusion.
There are going to be two entities.
One is an Intergovernmental Project Manager/Steering Group - ie The Customer.
The other is a JV Industrial Entity who will deliver the product - ie The Supplier.

Entity a) is the equivalent of OCCAR, entity b) is the equivalent of Airbus.
a) is answerable to taxpayers, b) is answerable to shareholders
a) Places a PO, b) fulfills it. If b) is late a) takes action.

The first CEO of a) will be Japanese and the first CEO of b) Italian. Which gives me confidence - the Japanese are the most precise demanding bureaucrats in the world and Italy has a good track record of cracking on with delivery.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
There is an alternative explanation - Nimrod was a BAE makework program. They were in a very weak financial position at the time, pension fund 6 billion in the red, just sold out of Airbus because they couldn't afford the Capex, regenerating nuclear subs, big losses on shutting down regional air, they had real cashflow problems.

The revenue from the Typhoon sale to KSA started flowing in 2009, ok so now it's safe to cancel Nimrod MR4A

<call me cynical>

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Something I missed at the end of last month. The RAeS magazine AEROSPACE ran a cover feature of GCAP. Including some very impressive new concept art:



Image
Image
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

Post by mrclark303 »

Jensy wrote: 24 May 2024, 15:30 Something I missed at the end of last month. The RAeS magazine AEROSPACE ran a cover feature of GCAP. Including some very impressive new concept art:



Image
Image
Many thanks for posting Jensy, interesting images, it looks seriously huge!!

One point, there's no way it's going to have a single nose wheel, the weight of this beast will require a double wheel arrangement.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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mrclark303 wrote: 24 May 2024, 23:15 Many thanks for posting Jensy, interesting images, it looks seriously huge!!

One point, there's no way it's going to have a single nose wheel, the weight of this beast will require a double wheel arrangement.
Agreed. Though there's a few, fairly major, things I speculate will change for any finalised GCAP to enter service.

One thing that's definitely clear is this is going to be a big aircraft. Particularly by post 1960s UK standards.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SD67 wrote: 24 May 2024, 13:06
Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
There is an alternative explanation - Nimrod was a BAE makework program. They were in a very weak financial position at the time, pension fund 6 billion in the red, just sold out of Airbus because they couldn't afford the Capex, regenerating nuclear subs, big losses on shutting down regional air, they had real cashflow problems.

The revenue from the Typhoon sale to KSA started flowing in 2009, ok so now it's safe to cancel Nimrod MR4A

<call me cynical>
Maybe, but didn't BAe take the best part of £1bn in loss charges on the MRA4 contract? That'd seem to undermine the idea that the contract was designed to keep them solvent.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Pseudo wrote: 25 May 2024, 08:10
SD67 wrote: 24 May 2024, 13:06
Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
There is an alternative explanation - Nimrod was a BAE makework program. They were in a very weak financial position at the time, pension fund 6 billion in the red, just sold out of Airbus because they couldn't afford the Capex, regenerating nuclear subs, big losses on shutting down regional air, they had real cashflow problems.

The revenue from the Typhoon sale to KSA started flowing in 2009, ok so now it's safe to cancel Nimrod MR4A

<call me cynical>
Maybe, but didn't BAe take the best part of £1bn in loss charges on the MRA4 contract? That'd seem to undermine the idea that the contract was designed to keep them solvent.
However you cut this, it's an absolutely staggering fu#k up, of biblical old testament propositions!

I had a long chat with a business contact a few years ago, he had left BAE Systems several years earlier and the stories he told ( or could tell me) me regarding MR4A left me open mouthed in shock...

Sadly, it could all have been saved had Company bosses listened to the imminently sensible suggestion that they bring back half a dozen surviving retired Woodford engineers as project advisers in the earliest stages, before they submitted their bid.

They would have been fully briefed on the airframes
(and the total and utter unsuitability of rebuild), the programme would simply have never started.

Bae systems could have submitted a bid based on new build airframes instead I suppose, or just ducked out and got behind one of the other contenders.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Pseudo wrote: 25 May 2024, 08:10
SD67 wrote: 24 May 2024, 13:06
Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
There is an alternative explanation - Nimrod was a BAE makework program. They were in a very weak financial position at the time, pension fund 6 billion in the red, just sold out of Airbus because they couldn't afford the Capex, regenerating nuclear subs, big losses on shutting down regional air, they had real cashflow problems.

The revenue from the Typhoon sale to KSA started flowing in 2009, ok so now it's safe to cancel Nimrod MR4A

<call me cynical>
Maybe, but didn't BAe take the best part of £1bn in loss charges on the MRA4 contract? That'd seem to undermine the idea that the contract was designed to keep them solvent.
Nup.
The settlement was a £125m payment from the MOD to BAE, basically covering redundancies and shutdown cost

It's in their annual report from 2011
https://investors.baesystems.com/~/medi ... r-2011.pdf

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SD67 wrote: 25 May 2024, 11:39
Pseudo wrote: 25 May 2024, 08:10
SD67 wrote: 24 May 2024, 13:06
Pseudo wrote: 24 May 2024, 07:31
I completely agree that in an ideal world the incoming Labour government would have cancelled the MRA4 and went with something else, though realistically I get the impression that the true scale of the problems didn't become apparent until the early 2000's. Though it really shouldn't have gotten to that point at all because the option chosen when the contract war awarded was obviously the wrong one.
There is an alternative explanation - Nimrod was a BAE makework program. They were in a very weak financial position at the time, pension fund 6 billion in the red, just sold out of Airbus because they couldn't afford the Capex, regenerating nuclear subs, big losses on shutting down regional air, they had real cashflow problems.

The revenue from the Typhoon sale to KSA started flowing in 2009, ok so now it's safe to cancel Nimrod MR4A

<call me cynical>
Maybe, but didn't BAe take the best part of £1bn in loss charges on the MRA4 contract? That'd seem to undermine the idea that the contract was designed to keep them solvent.
Nup.
The settlement was a £125m payment from the MOD to BAE, basically covering redundancies and shutdown cost

It's in their annual report from 2011
https://investors.baesystems.com/~/medi ... r-2011.pdf
Does that take in to account the £300m loss charge BAe took in 2000 and the £500m charge they took in 2003 on the Nimrod contract?

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Taking a charge is an internal accounting matter, often tax-driven. Bottomline is they were paid over 3 billion, cash and delivered nothing. No major purchases of material, no production line to set up, just people's time, who were already employees and had nothing else to do anyway. It was a nice little earner

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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They also bought United Defense in the US in the same time period for £2bn or so.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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No new news then folks?
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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I'm a newbie here, but this is probably the most interesting release of the programme's aims and development.
https://breakingdefense.com/2024/05/a-7 ... look-like/

WARTON, United Kingdom — BAE Systems hasn’t finalized its sixth-generation fighter, but company execs are already talking about a “seventh-generation” combat air platform — even though they say that term will probably be out of date by the time it rolls around.

Discussing the future of combat air at a media roundtable on May 14 at its manufacturing and assembly site in Warton, Lancashire, BAE Systems’ Combat Air Strategy Director, Mike Baulkwill said he “didn’t know where 7G aircraft development is heading,” but added, “We need to lose the generational name because aircraft are going to be evolving all the time.”

“There will be a baseline architecture which could be developed quickly and in an agile manner,” Baulkwill said, but generation-after-next aircraft will be “forever changing” through software updates and spiral developments.

Baulkwill’s sentiments were supported by BAE’s Jonny Moreton, partnership director and military advisor for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), who agreed “generational nomenclature” will disappear in the future. “Aircraft will be reliant on software and mission data to respond to emerging threats,” he said.

BAE Systems and its UK industry partners Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce are developing a sixth-gen combat air capability through the UK’s FCAS effort, which is nested under the trilateral Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) with Italy and Japan, due to enter service in 2035.

The comments came as BAE presented its “Combat Air Continuum” concept — essentially laying out how the company sees the next 25 years of airpower, and hence an indication of where the company will look to invest its R&D efforts going forward.

In the near term is what the company calls the “second epoch,” which will see a mix of fifth and sixth-gen platforms, with both augmented by what they call autonomous collaborative platforms (ACPs), aka loyal wingman drones. Those systems would help extend the lifespan of older jets like the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Referring to a future force mix of fourth, fifth and sixth-gen combat air platforms, Baulkwill suggested a “golf bag approach” which would enable air forces to operate a flexible portfolio capable of addressing threats.

“Most of our aircraft have gone out far beyond where they were designed for,” he said before suggesting how fourth-gen air frames like the company’s own Typhoon aircraft could be used to provide combat mass and to “protect” high-value sixth-gen fighters because the Royal Air Force (RAF) will not want them flying “all the time.”

According to Moreton, such a force mix could be “relatively enduring for the next 15 to 25 years”- something he believes will enable air forces to “demonstrate presence with lethal [fourth-gen] effects.”

Then a “third epoch” will roll out between 2046 and 2055, which will see western air forces operating “full 6G capabilities, augmented by autonomous combat aircraft taking diverse roles [and] potentially 7G fighter aircraft programs being developed [with] potential for wider collaboration and consolidation,” according to a company presentation.

Baulkwill also said there will always be a need for “combat mass,” particularly when it comes to homeland defense applications: “The Royal Air Force is working hard right now and this is a concept for the Ministry of Defense [MoD] to decide upon because it does look like it’s spread quite thin.”

But he also warned the MoD will need to strike a balance between technology, capability, cost and mass although he conceded combat mass will be heavily dependent upon availability.

BAE also presented its “latest thinking” on what its attritable ACP project might look like, though company officials suggested a scale model presented at Warton may not necessarily reflect a final design.

According to company literature, the ACP could be made available in land or maritime variants, featuring a pair of internal payload bays and containerized storage space capable of carrying payloads to support electronic attack; precision air-to-surface munitions; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air and air-to-surface logistics.

“At some point there will be a decision when we have to downselect an air frame and we have to find that point,” Neil Appleton, CEO of BAE subsidiary Malloy Aeronautics, said before describing the ACP as “incorporating goal-based autonomy that is capable of independent or synchronized action with combat air.”

Of course, the last four years have shown that procurement plans can fall apart quickly if the supply chain and workforce isn’t there. The execs, when pressed, acknowledged that will likely remain a challenge going forward, with Baulkwill suggesting that if the UK was drawn into a conflict near-term, the biggest concern will be sourcing of materials to increase production and support capacity for Typhoon.

Describing ongoing discussion within the MoD, he said, “There is more to do before the UK can put subsystems on the shelf and manufacture aircraft at pace. But it does have the skill sets in right areas with BAE, Leonardo UK, MBDA and Rolls Royce.”

He also suggested there were lessons in combat air to be derived from the ongoing war in Ukraine but warned “you can never be sure that is what the next fight is going to be [like].”
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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It looks like Typhoon is going to be in service for longer than expected here (to add combat mass). As much as we don't like scrapping old but useful equipment for spare parts around here (T1 Typhoons here), it makes sense with respect to extending the life of the existing fleet.

This isn't a cancellable project. Cancelling Tempest would mean that the UK has permanently given up developing fixed wing fighters. Tempest isn't just a fighter jet programme. It is the future of combat aviation from software, to electronics, to communications. At existing timelines, our serious competition is the Americans (who seem to have serious issues with software development practices at least at LM).

It's not really about the fighter expense. It seriously challenges your national intellectual capability to develop an extraordinary complex, integrated system with many individual complex nodes. The Americans are already turning the F-16 into a drone:

https://www.forces.net/technology/aircr ... uman-pilot

Building a vertically integrated autonomous system into 4th-5th platforms is very doable the more modular the systems are. For example, look at EW capabilities of Typhoon (modular upgrades).

As someone who devs software works with AI/ML and has some aptitude for electronics, I'll tell you that the UK is capable of pulling together a programme as if not more functional than what the Americans have at least in the software dev space.

Look at Palantir for example. Blue Prism (based in Warrington) were the first company to invent Robotic Process Automation in 2001 (you then collect the data from the automations then run some ML models for process intelligence). The sold their product to the financial sector, grew to turnover over £100 Million by around 2020 (19 years) while their American equivalents where getting contract in DOD and Law enforcement from 2003-2010. BluePrism then got took over by Americans during the pandemic after being listed on the London Stock Exchange with a depressed valuation. They could have been the biggest software company in Europe with serious R&D spend over the years.

My point here is that there's a lot of latent capability across the UK for such projects and we have a global comparative advantage, because for some reason, we produce people that are good at this stuff as a country. The level of complexity is so high now that throwing money at it won't make a difference beyond a certain point. If you can't handle software dev at a project of this scale, you have to chuck it all away and start over again. This is why Block IV F-35 is a catastrophe ATM (not talking the whole project).
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Another thing that I'm surprised that people don't realise is that there's a ginormous UK militarisation programme in flow. People spend all day on this forum speculating future programmes to be scrapped. The reality is that our capabilities by the 2040s will exceed what anybody here expects.

The truth is that Governments are in big big big trouble unless they can deal with asymmetric threats. In the mid-2010s, we shut down the only large gas storage facility (Rough) in the country. During the Ukraine crisis (early days) we were exporting gas to Europe for them to store for winter, because we didn't have the capability of storing our own gas.

We are a country that imports half of our food, yet we don't have any storage facilities for food and other critical goods in our supply chains. In fact, supermarkets can't even build large out of town stores (not since the 90s). This is why you see Tesco Express etc throughout our high streets. As we can't store anything, our supply chains are all JIT (Just In Time). This means that we're heavily exposed to global supply contraints etc and inflation.

I could go on about basic capabilities what we should be embarrassed about not having as a country.

The truth is that most people do not understand why we have certain issues and neither do they care why. The political class are fully aware that we are a Taiwan War away from the Western order to be upset internally and for the people to (mistakenly) turn against their own countries.

Listen to when Rachel Reeves talks about 'Securonomics' and securing resources + critical minerals in the Far East. Joining CPTPP was part of that. We are the Bulwark to China in the East Asian trade bloc, because the Americans have gone protectionist. Stationing an SSBN in Australia, calls to station frigates there and a Naval expansion.

We will sign a security treaty with the EU and our military is a huge counterweight diplomatically (contrary to what negative Western media say). The American carrier fleet is an incredibly inefficient enterprise. They have 11 supercarriers and 10 of those have equal sortie rates to QE class. It is imperative to the West that we have 2 fully loaded carriers. Sometimes I suspect the people who say that we should give up on our carriers are Russian and Chinese agents. Next year, we will have a CSG with 24 F-35s on one deck, a fleet of 48 and funding of 74 already allocated up to 2030. They are saying that we should give up a carrier air wing second only to the US (maybe even not soon looking at how they're struggling with F-35C and us having F-35B on our supercarriers). Especially having 20% of F-35 production with these factors, we will certainly get the full 138 (not even ordered but in service) and drones to add combat mass.

The GCAP programme has China moaning and complaining and hopefully (outsider chance), we can crowbar Japan into AUKUS. Talking of AUKUS, they moan that our trade deal allows generous lamb/beef imports from Australia, but the truth is that this is part of a foreign policy reorientation where Australia join our SSN programme in return.

Within 6 years, we will have 8 new surface fleet hulls in the water alone, ~ 60 F-35B in service, Aster 30, MK41, army modernisation etc all while funding a new SSBN programme (which takes a third of the defence budget).

The latest increase (gradual) to 2.5% of GDP is monumental. That's an extra £76 Billion by 2030. We had a £16.7 Billion black hole from 2023-2033 to fund existing programmes (which people thought would be cut down). By 2030, we will be roughly joint third in global defence spending with Russia (who are in a quasi war economy). Don't forget that our GDP is close to double Russia's so 0.5% is ~1% for Russia. Prices are much lower than Russia's however cutting edge technology is expensive wherever it comes from. Russia would have to import it and they have limited access to tech.

Dreadnaught class and CASD is costing 1/3rd of our defence budget. We will essentially have this spare cash in the early 2030s. This is on top of the fact that we haven't yet spent the whole uplift to 2.5% up to 2030. Hence, even if we don't go to 2.5% and simply fund existing programmes (Labour wouldn't cut defence back to that £1.69 Bn a year black hole), we will have mountains of spare cash in the early 2030s for GCAP and Naval expansion.

Even 'auxiliary' capabilities like AWACS are going to rely on autonomous systems in the future of combat. If it flies, it's part of GCAP. A lot of rotary capabilities like Merlins are going to be replaced by fixed wing and autonomous in the future. GCAP is going to envelope anything done by the airforce. I think that we are going to see a future of persistent R&D and development of systems rather than you plan, build, then upgrade quite sequentially. Not that there isn't R&D always going on, but aircraft will be modular to fit new sensors and hardware (F-35 is the most modular airframe going) and software updates will push/utilise the limits of new hardware.

Lets say a sensor can take readings 1,000 times per second. Say you fit a new sensor that takes reading a million times per second (higher refresh rate), you have access to even more real-time data and it can allow you produce even more accurate systems. Replacing old sensors with new ones is going to be a key feature of the future (hence modularity + persistent R&D. Hence building software and knowing to manage a complex programme is more important than ever before.

This is a simplification, but from my own knowledge (I'm deep into tech), it's a good summary at changes occurring in the present. The next 2 decades will heavily expose countries who lack vertically integrated development capabilities. Hardware, software and the layers which merge the two are all as important as each other on every project.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Excellent post

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Damola3 wrote: 26 May 2024, 14:41 Another thing that I'm surprised that people don't realise is that there's a ginormous UK militarisation programme in flow. People spend all day on this forum speculating future programmes to be scrapped. The reality is that our capabilities by the 2040s will exceed what anybody here expects.
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This is a simplification, but from my own knowledge (I'm deep into tech), it's a good summary at changes occurring in the present. The next 2 decades will heavily expose countries who lack vertically integrated development capabilities. Hardware, software and the layers which merge the two are all as important as each other on every project.
Good points. Particularly re: food security and energy security. Energy is getting attention, with the installation of more & more renewables (which I see as an energy security measure, rather than something related to climate change), moves to re-open sections of the Rough storage facility (even at it's peak it could only store 9 days worth) and the possiblity of SMRs actually being built.

Food security definitely needs more attention, resources & dedicated policy

Also good to have a periodic reminder that current major programs will wind down in the future, releasing funds from the overall budget for other projects

However - going a little off topic - probably better to discuss in General Defence
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Jam tomorrow

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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If it looks like there may be insufficient development funding for the programme to achieve its goals, does it not make sense to fully investigate the possibilities of getting another country to join the programme? It looks to me like there are two possible candidates - Saudi Arabia and India. It would make sense to fully explore what arrangement could be made with these countries before reaching a decision on going ahead (or not going ahead) in 2025. What would be dumb would be to invest tens of billions only to hit the financial buffers years down the line if that could have been avoided. I'm talking of being fully informed of the options open for the programme before starting it.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Spitfire9 wrote: 31 May 2024, 10:26 If it looks like there may be insufficient development funding for the programme to achieve its goals, does it not make sense to fully investigate the possibilities of getting another country to join the programme? It looks to me like there are two possible candidates - Saudi Arabia and India. It would make sense to fully explore what arrangement could be made with these countries before reaching a decision on going ahead (or not going ahead) in 2025. What would be dumb would be to invest tens of billions only to hit the financial buffers years down the line if that could have been avoided. I'm talking of being fully informed of the options open for the programme before starting it.
You'd have to be an idiot or totally desperate to join with India on anything.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Spitfire9 wrote: 31 May 2024, 10:26 ? It looks to me like there are two possible candidates - Saudi Arabia and India. It would make sense to fully explore what arrangement could be made with these countries before reaching a decision on going ahead (or not going ahead) in 2025. What would be dumb would be to invest tens of billions only to hit the financial buffers years down the line if that could have been avoided.
There is no way on God's sweet earth that we should be making the Maingate decision conditional upon India or the Saudis coming on board.

The key point to grasp is that it is only development cost which is incremental. The build cost will need to be incurred anyway. Even if the plan was to shut down the entire UK aviation industry there would still need to be a budget line, starting about 2033, to purchase a Typhoon replacement.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Ron5 wrote: 31 May 2024, 13:44
Spitfire9 wrote: 31 May 2024, 10:26 If it looks like there may be insufficient development funding for the programme to achieve its goals, does it not make sense to fully investigate the possibilities of getting another country to join the programme? It looks to me like there are two possible candidates - Saudi Arabia and India. It would make sense to fully explore what arrangement could be made with these countries before reaching a decision on going ahead (or not going ahead) in 2025. What would be dumb would be to invest tens of billions only to hit the financial buffers years down the line if that could have been avoided. I'm talking of being fully informed of the options open for the programme before starting it.
You'd have to be an idiot or totally desperate to join with India on anything.
I would not rule India out entirely. India is planning to move from its government-owned bureaucracy-ridden monopoly of fighter production to production of their 5G- AMCA fighter by the private sector. India also needs a hundred or so 4.5G fighters quickly. Rafale has a ten year backlog. Eurofighter does not. If Eurofighter could win the deal, there would be big bucks involved - $20 billion or so, I think. It would be the biggest order outside the Eurofighter partner orders.

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