The Future of Combat Air

Our role developing technologies for the future
In a world that is complex and uncertain, future combat air systems will need to be more capable, connected, flexible, upgradeable and affordable than ever before. Find out more about our skills, expertise and technologies that will support the UK's Combat Air Strategy for decades to come.
The Combat Air Strategy delivers a statement of government intent that the UK will remain a global leader in the Combat Air Sector.
A strong Combat Air Sector, including world leading industrial capability, remains critical to delivering the UK's national security objectives; protecting our people, projecting our global influence and promoting our prosperity.
We are immensely proud of our role in supporting these objectives, with our highly skilled workforce delivering innovative and cost effective solutions to ensure our customers are best placed to overcome increasingly complex challenges.
As the UK initiates its planning process to replace the Typhoon's capability as it begins to leave RAF service from 2040, we are working with our partners as part of Team Tempest to ensure the UK is positioned to lead a next generation acquisition programme and ensure the UK maintains the technological competence necessary to retain freedom of action and remain at the forefront of global Combat Air technology development.
This page has been developed to inform you of our progress.
The Future of Combat Air Farnborough International Air Show

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.


Team Tempest concept 1

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.


Tempest concept model


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 flexible payload bays, 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.


CGI of Team Tempest Future Combat Air System concept


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.

Tempest concept model

Factory of the Future

See how our advanced technologies are being brought together to create a first of its kind Factory of the Future.
Find out more


Tempest concept model


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.

Team Tempest

BAE Systems is working alongside the UK Government, the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Air Force and industry partners MBDA, Rolls-Royce and Leonardo to develop technologies to support the UK’s world-leading combat air capability today and into the future.

Key contributions from the industry partners are: