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Do We Finally Have A New, 6th-Generation Fighter With Hypersonic Armament?

The development of the Tempest was the subject of a $347 million agreement last year. Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Indian governments are discussing joining forces.

Regarding defense and national security, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of Britain, needs a better reputation. He has broad experience in the financial sector, having the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer before becoming Prime Minister of Britain. A major military choice, however, has just been made by him. Britain, Italy, and Japan will collaborate closely to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet capable of delivering hypersonic missiles in the future. An agreement adding new countries to the worldwide coalition of builders for the Royal Air Force Tempest fighter, which includes Germany and Spain, is nearing finalization.

The value of the agreement with these partners for developing the Tempest was $347 million last year. Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Indian governments are in talks to join the collaboration. The Eurofighter Typhoon will be phased out in favor of the Tempest by 2035. Around $2.4 billion in preliminary funding from the United Kingdom has been pledged to the Tempest program. The prime contractor is BAE Systems, and other companies involved include Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, and Rolls-Royce.

Since the Tempest is anticipated to pilot “faithful wingman” drones, this strategy will take a “family of systems” approach. A crewless variant of the Tempest is a distinct possibility. Throughout the following decade, hypersonic missile technology is predicted to advance to the point where the fighter can be equipped with them.

Not All Future European Fighters Will Look Like This

The British are trying to coordinate the project’s many international partners. Assembling a coalition of representatives from multiple nations will require extensive preparation and coordination. It doesn’t help that Germany, France, and Spain are also working on their next-generation fighter project, the Future Combat Air System.

Tempest’s first flight will hopefully take place in 2027. A director of aviation at Jane’s Defense named John Sneller says Tempest will blow people away. According to what Sneller told the Aviation Geek Club, the plane will be a manned or optionally manned fighter equipped with cutting-edge technologies like multiple weapon payloads, a sturdy airframe, long-range radar, cutting-edge materials, hypersonic weapons, lasers, smart maintenance, cyber defense, and manned-unmanned teaming.

It is running on schedule so far.

After displaying a mockup at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2018, the aircraft should be on track to accomplish its milestones. The British have pledged to produce a carrier-capable, faithful wingman drone for the Tempest naval fleet in 2019. In the same year, it stated that the program would also include secure networking technologies.

In 2020, the Tempest countries will divide $6 billion for R&D after signing a memorandum of intent for the relationship. Also, in 2021, Team Tempest defense contractors and the U.K. Ministry of Defense reached an agreement worth $305 million. The same year showed a second prototype at a flying expo.

An augmented reality headset connected to a 5G network that allows the pilot to communicate with ground control and other aircraft is promised for Tempest. The pilot will wear this headset, and artificial intelligence features will link the pilot’s eyes, voice, and gestures to the controls. The jet could perform better in combat situations with an artificial intelligence-enhanced virtual “avatar” co-pilot.

Is there political willpower behind it?

It may sound overly optimistic, but using the collective brainpower of designers and engineers from all these countries should provide exponential improvements. By the middle or late 2020s, we will have a flying technology demonstrator. It is unclear how much money will be required from each country or if Rishi Sunak’s conservative government will remain in power long enough to provide the necessary funding. Before her, the Conservative government was led by Liz Truss, who became the shortest-serving prime minister in history at seven weeks in office.

Yet, Russia is progressing with cutting-edge weaponry, and Britain is trying to gain an aerial advantage. The Tempest will be equipped with cutting-edge weapons and defenses. Several of the sleek design elements of the Tempest could be adopted by other NATO members or incorporated into their next-generation aircraft. The Tempest is now a potentially lucrative wager on the future of air dominance.

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