Wal­lace woos al­lies in quest to share costs of Tem­pest

De­fence Min­is­ter makes fighter jet ap­peal as he launches on­line ver­sion of Farn­bor­ough air show

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Alan Tovey

BEN WAL­LACE, the De­fence Sec­re­tary, is­sued an ex­tra­or­di­nary ap­peal for more coun­tries to join the UK’s Tem­pest pro­gramme to build a new fighter jet as he help launched the on­line ver­sion of the Farn­bor­ough air show.

Speak­ing over the in­ter­net af­ter the land­mark trade show was can­celled be­cause of coro­n­avirus, Mr Wal­lace urged other coun­tries to join in the de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for Bri­tain’s next-gen­er­a­tion war­plane.

His re­marks are likely to be seen as part of an ef­fort by min­is­ters to work more closely with al­lies and share the eye-wa­ter­ing costs of new de­fence kit. They come amid fears that the Armed Forces could be cut back sharply to save money, rel­e­gat­ing the country to a mid-tier mil­i­tary power.

Mr Wal­lace said: “We are keen to see more in­ter­na­tional partners joins us on the flight path of dis­cov­ery. This is your chance to share tech­nol­ogy, ex­pe­ri­ence and re­search and de­vel­op­ment costs, to strengthen ex­ist­ing al­liances and help es­tab­lish new ones.”

Italy and Swe­den have al­ready joined, the min­is­ter said. Min­is­ters and de­fence staff have said they are in talks with other coun­tries about Tem­pest, but have re­fused to give details of their iden­ti­ties. Ja­pan, how­ever, is un­der­stood to be the most in­ter­ested.

If Tem­pest goes ahead as hoped, the stealth air­craft will enter ser­vice in 2035. It is likely to in­cor­po­rate tech­nolo­gies such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence al­low­ing the plane to fly with no pi­lot on board, as well as “swarms” of com­puter con­trolled drone wing­men.

Tem­pest was launched two years ago at Farn­bor­ough as a part­ner­ship be­tween the state and lead­ing aerospace com­pa­nies such as BAE Sys­tems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce. A ba­sic spec­i­fi­ca­tion for the £2bn pro­grammed is ex­pected to be set­tled by the end of the year.

Mr Wal­lace also con­firmed that seven more com­pa­nies – Bom­bardier, Collins, GE, GKN, Martin-Baker, QinetiQ and Thales – have come on board. Swedish com­pany Saab is in­volved too, de­vel­op­ing future com­bat air sys­tems.

Mean­while, the UK Govern­ment announced £200m of grants for re­search projects run by the Aerospace Tech­nol­ogy In­sti­tute, which will be matched by in­dus­try.

Min­is­ters also gave more details of their am­bi­tions to cut carbon emis­sions from air travel, with a bid to cre­ate a non-pol­lut­ing air­liner that can fly the At­lantic with zero carbon im­pact.

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