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 »

mrclark303 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 20:11
SW1 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 17:46
mrclark303 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 10:36
new guy wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 07:26
inch wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 01:27 Maybe that's the tempest demonstration model that base are going to use as test in a couple of years but the GCAP model will be totally different in future
IDK to be honest, I thought of that too, but we have already seen the 10m+ inlets for the tempest demonstrator and I don't think those will fit. Plus that model is like 5 years old before a lot of the development has happened.

I wonder if they are going for one large simplified weapons bay, or a smaller ordnance bay and two cheek mounded AA bays?

I think keeping it simple with a large central weapons bay personally....
This drives a lot of design considerations. Having a big bay usually in the middle leads to lots of headaches around engine placement and route of the engine duct to get from intake to fan face, it may need to curve a lot and increase its length, the engines may need to be moved further off the centre axis of aircraft which can lead to control surface size increases to deal with asymmetric thrust conditions. It can also complicate landing gear placement and how you get the loads into the wing spar and centre wing box area.
I think the suspected overall size, with a large wide fuselage will render a large single bay possible.

On a GCAP related note, it's interesting to see that BAE Systems has been working on a Loyal wingman quietly.

Prototype to fly in two years, I wonder if this will be folded into the GCAP system of systems?

A capable LW will be a shot in the arm for the RAF, finally bringing back some mass.
I would say, I would like to see an open competition for the Loyal wingman with competing designs and a fly off.

While Ghost Bat currently leads the way, it's also quite possible that new designs can learn from it and push technologies further.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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mrclark303 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 20:11
SW1 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 17:46
mrclark303 wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 10:36
new guy wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 07:26
inch wrote: 06 Feb 2024, 01:27 Maybe that's the tempest demonstration model that base are going to use as test in a couple of years but the GCAP model will be totally different in future
IDK to be honest, I thought of that too, but we have already seen the 10m+ inlets for the tempest demonstrator and I don't think those will fit. Plus that model is like 5 years old before a lot of the development has happened.

I wonder if they are going for one large simplified weapons bay, or a smaller ordnance bay and two cheek mounded AA bays?

I think keeping it simple with a large central weapons bay personally....
This drives a lot of design considerations. Having a big bay usually in the middle leads to lots of headaches around engine placement and route of the engine duct to get from intake to fan face, it may need to curve a lot and increase its length, the engines may need to be moved further off the centre axis of aircraft which can lead to control surface size increases to deal with asymmetric thrust conditions. It can also complicate landing gear placement and how you get the loads into the wing spar and centre wing box area.
I think the suspected overall size, with a large wide fuselage will render a large single bay possible.

On a GCAP related note, it's interesting to see that BAE Systems has been working on a Loyal wingman quietly.

Prototype to fly in two years, I wonder if this will be folded into the GCAP system of systems?

A capable LW will be a shot in the arm for the RAF, finally bringing back some mass.
I mentioned middle last year you will see an unmanned aircraft come out of the shadows..
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Any production loyal wingman will not be cheap, will not be soon and will not be as capable as most folks think.

Not clear they're needed anyway.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Ron5 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 13:38 Any production loyal wingman will not be cheap, will not be soon and will not be as capable as most folks think.

Not clear they're needed anyway.
There seems to be a desperation to push UAVs/RPASs into as many roles as possible. With the assumption being that because say an MQ-4C or MQ-9B excells in it operating environment, offers vastly superior endurance or has far lower operating costs than an inhabited platform, that the same is true across combat air.

Can't help but feel the whole thing has echoes of Duncan Sandys and the 1957 White Paper.

As soon as survivability in a peer conflict becomes a requirement, there's not going to be much scope for affordability or mass.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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I'm just hoping if they do build that it could possibly fill out the carriers ,if that's the y they decided to go aswell, I'm starting to think rightly or wrongly that the uk must start building it's own capabilities somewhat,or should I say as much as it can,the GCAP if realized would go somewhere to for filling this capacity,I'm just seeing how things are going in the world especially with America and I'm thinking they might be on a different journey going forwards ,UK Will have to have it's own back somehow or to a greater extent, which is a good thing tbh,and shouldn't have let it get to this state we in now ,I'm thinking UK/ Europe can't POSSIBLY count on America going forwards ,so our political class should think about this seriously and at least have the conversation about strategic needs , American equipment is top notch best in class and sometimes the only thing out there,but I think there needs to be a strategic change in thinking and need to look at other options,even if not best in class ,yes it's going to be very difficult going forwards I'm thinking,but we not a poor country it just needs political will and giving correct narrative to the UK population about the situation,and at end of day think Americans would appreciate us buying our own kit and standing on our own more anyway ,, personally i wouldnt buy any more F35 ,and use funds to develop gcap and drone capacities ,someone needs to do some serious thinking going forwards

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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I was hopeful that firstly Australia developed their globaĺ MQ28 Ghost Bat UAV and that secondly happy to do deal on Project Tempest.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Jensy wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 14:53
Ron5 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 13:38 Any production loyal wingman will not be cheap, will not be soon and will not be as capable as most folks think.

Not clear they're needed anyway.
There seems to be a desperation to push UAVs/RPASs into as many roles as possible. With the assumption being that because say an MQ-4C or MQ-9B excells in it operating environment, offers vastly superior endurance or has far lower operating costs than an inhabited platform, that the same is true across combat air.

Can't help but feel the whole thing has echoes of Duncan Sandys and the 1957 White Paper.

As soon as survivability in a peer conflict becomes a requirement, there's not going to be much scope for affordability or mass.
Don’t think there is a desperation. There is certainly a desire to remove the pilot from having to go into a contested environment for strike missions.

They don’t need to be fully survivable in the same way that sending a manned aircraft into a contested environment wouldn’t be survivable either it’s just you don’t risk the pilot it’s easier to replace the plane than train a new pilot. Unmanned aircraft do allow the airframe to be configured with more survivable features.

The closets you get for comparison is that on the first night of the 91 gulf war 20-40% of the aircraft dispatched were expected not to return.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SW1 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 16:16
Jensy wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 14:53
Ron5 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 13:38 Any production loyal wingman will not be cheap, will not be soon and will not be as capable as most folks think.

Not clear they're needed anyway.
There seems to be a desperation to push UAVs/RPASs into as many roles as possible. With the assumption being that because say an MQ-4C or MQ-9B excells in it operating environment, offers vastly superior endurance or has far lower operating costs than an inhabited platform, that the same is true across combat air.

Can't help but feel the whole thing has echoes of Duncan Sandys and the 1957 White Paper.

As soon as survivability in a peer conflict becomes a requirement, there's not going to be much scope for affordability or mass.
Don’t think there is a desperation. There is certainly a desire to remove the pilot from having to go into a contested environment for strike missions.

They don’t need to be fully survivable in the same way that sending a manned aircraft into a contested environment wouldn’t be survivable either it’s just you don’t risk the pilot it’s easier to replace the plane than train a new pilot. Unmanned aircraft do allow the airframe to be configured with more survivable features.

The closets you get for comparison is that on the first night of the 91 gulf war 20-40% of the aircraft dispatched were expected not to return.
Just to clarify, the "desperation", as I see it, is to bulk up dwindling platform numbers with 'Wunderwaffe UCAVs' that will be simultaneously cheap, plentiful and capable.

I'd say you could get the first two, or the last of those. Not all three at the same time.

There is a crossover point where the lack of cost benefit outweighs the removal of a pilot. The breadth of demands being put onto the US CCA programme I see as a prime example of this.

I certainly think there's huge potential for uninhabited aircraft taking more and more roles. ISTAR in particular and other supporting roles seems ideal.

It's specifically in terms of penetrating strike or contested A2A that I can't see the balance being in their favour for multiple decades. Even then, that's assuming countermeasures, jamming and EW tech advances won't nullify those remaining advantages.

Happy for us to have a play around at the low level but as soon as someone suggests GCAP should be 'optionally inhabited' I'm going to scream internally (and probably externally)...
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Jensy wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 18:42
SW1 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 16:16
Jensy wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 14:53
Ron5 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 13:38 Any production loyal wingman will not be cheap, will not be soon and will not be as capable as most folks think.

Not clear they're needed anyway.
There seems to be a desperation to push UAVs/RPASs into as many roles as possible. With the assumption being that because say an MQ-4C or MQ-9B excells in it operating environment, offers vastly superior endurance or has far lower operating costs than an inhabited platform, that the same is true across combat air.

Can't help but feel the whole thing has echoes of Duncan Sandys and the 1957 White Paper.

As soon as survivability in a peer conflict becomes a requirement, there's not going to be much scope for affordability or mass.
Don’t think there is a desperation. There is certainly a desire to remove the pilot from having to go into a contested environment for strike missions.

They don’t need to be fully survivable in the same way that sending a manned aircraft into a contested environment wouldn’t be survivable either it’s just you don’t risk the pilot it’s easier to replace the plane than train a new pilot. Unmanned aircraft do allow the airframe to be configured with more survivable features.

The closets you get for comparison is that on the first night of the 91 gulf war 20-40% of the aircraft dispatched were expected not to return.
Just to clarify, the "desperation", as I see it, is to bulk up dwindling platform numbers with 'Wunderwaffe UCAVs' that will be simultaneously cheap, plentiful and capable.

I'd say you could get the first two, or the last of those. Not all three at the same time.

There is a crossover point where the lack of cost benefit outweighs the removal of a pilot. The breadth of demands being put onto the US CCA programme I see as a prime example of this.

I certainly think there's huge potential for uninhabited aircraft taking more and more roles. ISTAR in particular and other supporting roles seems ideal.

It's specifically in terms of penetrating strike or contested A2A that I can't see the balance being in their favour for multiple decades. Even then, that's assuming countermeasures, jamming and EW tech advances won't nullify those remaining advantages.

Happy for us to have a play around at the low level but as soon as someone suggests GCAP should be 'optionally inhabited' I'm going to scream internally (and probably externally)...
I would see it nearly exactly the opposite way round. The istar aircraft manned the strike ones not. Yes for persistence uavs can have a useful role but having specialist operators on station and controlling uavs within line of sight of the airborne istar aircraft has benefits.

Having single use unmanned aircraft that doesn’t risk a pilot or require the jpr assets on standby are a cheaper option than sending a manned aircraft. Think of them as the hawk jet being cheaper than a typhoon.

As for bulking up it will largely depend on how many ground personnel you have and how these aircraft will be turned round and who arms them. That will be your pinch point much as it is today.

We are largely at the point were these are replacing manned strike aircraft not bulking up manned ones

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SW1 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 20:23 I would see it nearly exactly the opposite way round. The istar aircraft manned the strike ones not. Yes for persistence uavs can have a useful role but having specialist operators on station and controlling uavs within line of sight of the airborne istar aircraft has benefits.

Having single use unmanned aircraft that doesn’t risk a pilot or require the jpr assets on standby are a cheaper option than sending a manned aircraft. Think of them as the hawk jet being cheaper than a typhoon.

As for bulking up it will largely depend on how many ground personnel you have and how these aircraft will be turned round and who arms them. That will be your pinch point much as it is today.

We are largely at the point were these are replacing manned strike aircraft not bulking up manned ones
Ah, I suspect we were [partially] at crossed purposes.

Yes, agree on single use and expendable UCAVs. Though I'd hope cheaper than a Hawk 128.

Your last point is the one I was broadly trying to make. If we're not going to be exponentially increasing our combat air fleet through the use of UCAVs, then we need to balance the pros and cons of inhabited vs uninhabited. Keeping ourselves from following the latest fads, as we tend to do.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Jensy wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 21:13
SW1 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 20:23 I would see it nearly exactly the opposite way round. The istar aircraft manned the strike ones not. Yes for persistence uavs can have a useful role but having specialist operators on station and controlling uavs within line of sight of the airborne istar aircraft has benefits.

Having single use unmanned aircraft that doesn’t risk a pilot or require the jpr assets on standby are a cheaper option than sending a manned aircraft. Think of them as the hawk jet being cheaper than a typhoon.

As for bulking up it will largely depend on how many ground personnel you have and how these aircraft will be turned round and who arms them. That will be your pinch point much as it is today.

We are largely at the point were these are replacing manned strike aircraft not bulking up manned ones
Ah, I suspect we were [partially] at crossed purposes.

Yes, agree on single use and expendable UCAVs. Though I'd hope cheaper than a Hawk 128.

Your last point is the one I was broadly trying to make. If we're not going to be exponentially increasing our combat air fleet through the use of UCAVs, then we need to balance the pros and cons of inhabited vs uninhabited. Keeping ourselves from following the latest fads, as we tend to do.
Maybe a bit of cross purposes. What I mean by single use would be better described as single role. I think the hawk price is likely a rough ball park.

I wouldn’t class it as the latest fad it probably were we should have gone in 2010 with taranis being productionised but there is probably more a physiological shift than technological shift needed to do it. What’s gone on in Ukraine may speed that up. I would likely keep manned aircraft for air superiority tasks because they have roles outside of war that would be politically unacceptable to be done by unmanned aircraft.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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If an unmanned aircraft is smart enough to be a loyal wingman then there's no need for the manned aircraft at all. Just send the drones.

If the targets are near the front line, an Amazon drone is smart enough.

If it's single use then it's a smart missile.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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My .02 EUR worth - the manned fighter has been pronounced dead a few times. I mean, has a fully autonomous (as opposed to remotely piloted) aircraft actually flown? And if so why aren't we deploying them commercially? Possibly starting with airfreight.
What about rules of engagement, hacking (which our enemies are rather good at) and backup in case of system failure? Even if we have the technology - why not just leave the pilot in there as a manager? Is it really worth the risk to take the man out of the loop? Colour me sceptical
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SD67 wrote: 09 Feb 2024, 15:19 My .02 EUR worth - the manned fighter has been pronounced dead a few times. I mean, has a fully autonomous (as opposed to remotely piloted) aircraft actually flown? And if so why aren't we deploying them commercially? Possibly starting with airfreight.
What about rules of engagement, hacking (which our enemies are rather good at) and backup in case of system failure? Even if we have the technology - why not just leave the pilot in there as a manager? Is it really worth the risk to take the man out of the loop? Colour me sceptical
If you mean by autonomous that an aircraft can be loaded with a flight plan and it flys it then yes.

Operating in commercial airspace is heavily regulated compared to military airspace. Cat 3c landing already allows commercial aircraft to auto land and rollout, if the airport is equipped with the ground systems. There is single pilot freighter tech already there but the regulators of commercial aircraft don’t even like that are risk adverse mainly because they are operating with all the other commercial aircraft and general aviation aircraft. Also can’t see the 190 plebs getting on an easyjet flight with no pilots even though the tech is there to do it. You can see how long it has taken for ADS-B to be mandated on the North Atlantic track system.

Why not leave the pilot there? Attrition you can replace the aircraft quicker than you can replace a fully trained pilot. The risk profile in a war that Ukraine is fighting is different to the risk profile of say a fast jet flying over Afghanistan.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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I meant more an "autonomous aircraft that can be thrown into A2A combat, figure out who the enemy is and defeat them".

If they cannot do that then how can they replace fighter pilots?

And if they need a manned fighter to act as "Mothership" what's to say the enemy won't just ignore the wingmen take out the piloted "brain" then the whole thing collapses.

If fully autonomous does work then the Chinese will have their own version out in short order - how do we know they're going to cooperate by reducing their pilot numbers at the same time we reduce ours?

I fear this could be used as an excuse to avoid sorting out pilot training or by HMT to skimp on the Tempest numbers, you can just see it "we don't need so many because we have these wonderful drones"
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SD67 wrote: 09 Feb 2024, 22:04 I meant more an "autonomous aircraft that can be thrown into A2A combat, figure out who the enemy is and defeat them".

If they cannot do that then how can they replace fighter pilots?

And if they need a manned fighter to act as "Mothership" what's to say the enemy won't just ignore the wingmen take out the piloted "brain" then the whole thing collapses.

If fully autonomous does work then the Chinese will have their own version out in short order - how do we know they're going to cooperate by reducing their pilot numbers at the same time we reduce ours?

I fear this could be used as an excuse to avoid sorting out pilot training or by HMT to skimp on the Tempest numbers, you can just see it "we don't need so many because we have these wonderful drones"
As I mentioned this is in regard to strike missions not air superiority tasks.

There has been darpa experiments already which shows an AI pilot will outperform an experienced pilot in simulation how far you wish to go dwn that road in fielding is a genie out of the bottle question.

They still need pilots and pilots need to be trained.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Defiance wrote: 01 Mar 2017, 14:47 Germany's going to have to do something if they want a new program to replace Tornado, there's not many other people interested in that sort of timeframe for that class of product who aren't already doing other things. If they reckon they can go it alone then more power to them but the costs would be challenging.

More than likely if they can't get onto a program reasonably then it'll be Typhoon enhancements.
I had thought the German replacement for Tornado was F35A and that they'd envisaged 🇫🇷🇪🇸🇩🇪 SCAF/FCAS as their replacement for Eurofighter-Typhoon.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Worth making the point that both Ukraine and NATO do consider it very important to get manned Western fast jets in the skies over Ukraine - even though that will be using old aircraft in a high threat environment. They could have gone a different route by deciding to instead spend the money and time that is being used on conversion training / provision of equipment in rushing into service some kind of Ukraine orientated Ghost Bat variant or similar but have decided to go the conventional route (obviously there are also masses of less sophisticated drones being developed and employed).

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SW1 wrote: 07 Feb 2024, 16:16 There is certainly a desire to remove the pilot from having to go into a contested environment for strike missions.
A missile then? or an Amazon drone? or a Reaper?

I had assumed a loyal wingman would have a more demanding set of tasks.


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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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Interesting. I don't see how the Aeralis concept could be applicable to the LIFT part - it would surely need to be supersonic.

Maybe some kind spin out of GCAP using M346 as a base
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is starting to assess its pilot training needs regarding the future Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), having determined that its current BAE Systems Hawk T2s will not be suitable for the task.

A 28-strong fleet of Hawk T2s currently delivers advanced jet training in support of the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35B fleets.

“It was always planned to go out of service around the end of the next decade, and we’re pretty clear that it won’t meet the requirements for a Global Combat Air Programme solution,” chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton says of the current type.

“As a consequence, we need to plan now and start a programme for the replacement of Hawk as an advanced jet trainer,” he told the House of Commons Defence Committee on 21 February.

Hawk T2 noses

Source: BAE Systems

RAF currently has a 28-strong fleet of Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers

An ongoing analysis is looking at the service’s training system requirements, he adds.

“One potential opportunity that we’re exploring is how we might use an aircraft that was principally bought and developed for training also to provide surrogate training for the in-service GCAP. The UK, along with Italy and Japan, is working to develop a sixth-generation manned fighter named Tempest.

“Instead of flying the all-up combat aircraft every day, for some of the missions you could get all of the training that you needed through a surrogate platform,” Knighton says. “The benefits are it’s cheaper to fly and operate, [and] it doesn’t give away your tactics or some of the electromagnetic emissions from the [GCAP] aircraft.”

Knighton also believes such a platform could be used to deliver so-called Red Air adversary training services in support of frontline squadrons.

“By thinking about the breadth of that requirement, that enables us to think through whether there might be a single solution,” he says, highlighting the modular aircraft concept being advanced by UK developer Aeralis as an example of such a future capability.

“The [Aeralis] team’s model of a modular system that would enable you to deliver capability for a number of different scenarios is something that we’re very interested in,” he says.

Aeralis jets

Source: Aeralis

UK developer Aeralis is promoting its modular aircraft concept for a variety of roles

Bristol-headquartered start-up Aeralis has already received interest and funding support from the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office as it matures its modular aircraft concept. The company late last year outlined its plan to fly a test vehicle, named Phoenix, and believes an operational system could be available from around the end of this decade.

“What I’d like to do is bring that capability investigation to a conclusion before we get into the next spending review and defence review, because that would be the point at which we would need to establish a programme,” Knighton says.

“Right now, there is no money set aside in the defence budget for a replacement for Hawk,” he notes. “We will need to have our evidence gathered and developed, for us to be in a position to make a case for investment. The wider [applications] that that capability can support, the better.

“I’m quite confident that we’ll get to the position where we can lay that out and initiate a programme,” he says.

Tempest GCAP pair

Source: BAE Systems

Using a ‘surrogate’ trainer platform could enable the RAF to optimise the use of its sixth-generation Tempest fighter

Meanwhile, Knighton says the Adour engine reliability issues that have dogged operations with the Hawk T2 fleet since earlier this decade are likely to continue for the “next few years”.

“We still have problems with engine availability. That constrains aircraft availability, which limits the number of pilots that we can put through the [training] system.

“I’m expecting for the next few years for us to continue to need to put pilots through international systems like the NATO system in the USA and Italy,” he says. “We continue to drive Rolls-Royce and Safran, who are responsible for the components that have failed, and BAE Systems hard to improve the output.”

The Hawk T2’s official out-of-service date is scheduled during 2040.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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SD67 wrote: 24 Feb 2024, 12:11 Interesting. I don't see how the Aeralis concept could be applicable to the LIFT part - it would surely need to be supersonic.

Maybe some kind spin out of GCAP using M346 as a base
You can guarantee the Italians are pushing very hard for a M346 derivative for GCAP Lift.

Why wouldn't they, they make truly excellent platforms.

Aeralis has real potential, if, (big if), it can get away from the starting blocks, theres great potential synergy with GCAP, re next generation 3d printing etc.
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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

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It's interesting. Aeralis are confirmed subsonic only, ie going for "everything below T7 / M346 / T-50". Which is quite a huge market, but not a LIFT for a 5th/6th gen fighter. But for sure there'll be synergies. For one thing Aeralis are now half owned by the Qatar sovereign wealth find, Qatar being a Hawk + Typhoon customer.

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Re: Future UK Combat Aircraft (Project Tempest)

Post by SW1 »

They’ll be falling over themselves to buy the Boeing T7 red hawk knowing them.

Do the French currently assign alpha jets to rafale sqns to do similar?

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