Sunday, 13 June, 2021

Farnborough: the Tempest fighter jet, the UK’s big bluff

London presented at the Farnborough Airshow a combat aircraft project, called Tempest, a direct competitor of the Franco-German SCAF project. More than a real program, the project looks like a way to put pressure on Paris and Berlin so that they make room for British industrialists.

Scale model of the British fighter project Tempest

It was the chef’s surprise on the first day of the Farnborough Airshow. British Prime Minister Theresa May threw a hell of a stone in the pond on Monday (July 16) by announcing the launch of a new British fighter jet program, called Tempest, and scheduled for 2035. The project, in which London intends to invest 2 billion pounds by 2025, associates two British aeronautical giants, BAe Systems and the engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, allied with the Italian Leonardo and the European missile company MBDA. The objective is to have an operational aircraft in 2035, when it will succeed the Eurofighter Typhoon. This unexpected announcement resonates as a response to the Franco-German SCAF combat aircraft program, developed by Dassault Aviation and Airbus, and also scheduled for 2035-2040.

Should we take the Tempest project seriously? London replied in the affirmative. Defense Minister Gavin Williamson, who was speaking in front of a model of the aircraft, assures that he wants to unite an international team, and aims for a final copy on acquisition targets, partners, costs and delivery schedule as soon as possible. the end of 2020. This intra-European competition (London and Rome against Paris-Berlin) would not be a first. It is reminiscent of the Rafale-Eurofighter duel, a ruthless war that has been opposing Dassault Aviation on one side, BAe Systems, Airbus and Leonardo on the other since the 1980s. It would nonetheless be catastrophic: a new war would have every chance of definitively destroying what remains of the military aeronautics industry of the Old Continent.

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