We know that the future operating environment will be contested, congested and complex.
A future fighter system will need to be capable, flexible, upgradeable, connected and affordable to ensure we deliver a system to meet the demands of the operating environment, both known and unknown.
To deliver significant information advantage and mission effectiveness, the future combat air system will act as a ‘force multiplier’, interoperating with a wide range of other civil and military platforms and services across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains – as well as unmanned systems.
Air forces of the future will require a fighter system that is highly flexible and can be applied to a wide variety of military operations. Operators will have the ability to rapidly adapt the system to perform new functions or to change its performance.
Depending on the mission, ‘role fit’ additions such as low observable conformal fuel tanks, weapons dispensers, air launched UAV dispensers, large modular sensors, long range oblique photography systems for reconnaissance and Laser Directed Energy Weapons could be available.
The Future Combat Air System will be quickly and affordably upgradable, maintaining Operational Advantage and Freedom of Action in a rapidly evolving threat environment. Physical interfaces must therefore be strong, lightweight, numerous, and affordably produced. This will be achieved through our expertise in additive layer manufacture, joining and fastener technology, ‘geometric locking’, and low observable materials. Robotic and cobotic assembly is likely to play a significant role.
Advanced manufacturing techniques will play a significant role in reducing the unit production cost of a Future Combat Air System, and will be a key enabler of flexibility and upgradeability. For example, in-service support costs can be reduced by using robotics adapted from manufacturing to re-fuel, re-arm, role-fit, and repair.
Key contributions from the industry partners are:
- BAE Systems - advanced combat air systems and integration
- Rolls-Royce - advanced power and propulsion systems
- Leonardo – advanced sensors, electronics and avionics
- MBDA - advanced weapons systems