Formula E racing tech set to ‘electrify’ Tempest stealth fighter project
STEALTH fighter programme Tempest is turning to motorsport to help “electrify” its jets.
The scheme to develop a new stealth fighter for the UK and partner nations will call upon battery technology used in Formula-E racing from Williams Advanced Engineering to help make the aircraft faster and more powerful. BAE
Systems, one of the leading companies in Tempest, is working with the motorsport expert to see how its systems to cool and manage power from batteries in racing cars can be adapted for the new aircraft, which could be in service with the RAF in 2035.
David Holmes, BAE director of manufacturing, said: “Weight impacts all parts of aircraft performance so having lightweight batteries from motorsport means you can go faster, have a longer range and be more agile.”
Tempest is also looking at equipping the jets with “directed energy weapons” – potentially lasers – which will require immense amounts of power and cooling.
Traditional generators might not be able to generate enough power quickly enough, so batteries could make up any shortfall. So far the UK, Sweden and Italy have signed up to Tempest. Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA are manufacturing partners alongside BAE.
The Ministry of Defence and industry have committed £2bn so far and have about 1,800 people working on the project.
They are due to deliver to deliver an “outline business case” for the fighter to the MOD at the end of this year. It will take another five years to narrow down exactly what is expected from the aircraft. If the project gets the green light from governments, production could last a decade and the aircraft could be in service beyond 2060.
Britain’s £6bn-a-year combat aircraft industry provides 18,000 jobs. According to BAE, it is responsible for 85pc of defence exports and delivers £900m a year in taxes.
A concept model of the Tempest, the UK’s future combat aircraft, on the runway at BAE Systems’ site in Lancashire, the project hoping to harness the expertise of motorsport