Engineers from the UK’s top combat air industry partners have revealed more details about the work being done to create the UK’s first flying combat air demonstration of its generation.
To develop the technology required to deliver the UK’s next-generation supersonic stealth combat aircraft, Tempest, experts from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK, MBDA, and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) are working with a variety of British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The UK government first announced the Flying Technology Demonstrator in July 2022. It is expected to take flight within the next four years and is being created employing a variety of cutting-edge digital techniques and transformative processes, as well as the know-how of the UK’s top-tier defence sector.
Test pilots from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) have flown the demonstration aircraft for more than 150 hours in a new, custom simulator at BAE Systems’ brand-new facility in Warton, Lancashire, giving vital data to assist flight testing.
Engineers have also been testing aerodynamic engines, using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to create an engine duct that is specially designed to reduce air speed at the engine face from supersonic to subsonic. Because there are fewer moving parts in the intake than in a conventional fighter jet design, the aircraft is more stealthy. The Concorde Olympus engine’s test was done in the 1960s at the same facility now used by Rolls-Royce, in Filton, Bristol.
A group of engineers from BAE Systems have overseen ejection seat demonstrations using a rocket-propelled sledge moving at more than 500 mph while collaborating with UK crew escape expert Martin Baker. Junior team members and seasoned engineers collaborated to transfer important skills that can be applied moving ahead.
The Global Combat Air Programme, which will be supplied by the UK, Italy, and Japan, will produce Tempest, an aircraft, and this variety of unique technologies will demonstrate and test important parts of the next-generation combat air design as well as skills, tools, processes, and procedures.