The Government’s Combat Air Strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the future - and it has a major impact on BAE Systems and its Lancashire workforce.
Building on the government’s industrial strategy, it outlines how the UK will retain its ability to choose how it will meet its future requirements and initiates the programme to deliver the successor capability to Typhoon.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson launched the detailed Combat Air Strategy document at the Farnborough International Air Show.
In a move which will give cheer to Lancashire workers on the Typhoon and F-35 at Warton and Samlesbury, he said those two programmes would be at the heart of a future strategy.
Mr Williamson said: “Our vision is for the UK to remain at the leading edge of Combat Air system development to protect our people, project influence and promote our prosperity.
“To do this the Ministry of Defence and industry must build on success, rapidly change our approach and work together to achieve common goals.
“We must develop more capability, more quickly, for less.
“It is nearly 40 years since Typhoon was conceived. In that time technology has revolutionised all aspects of life from the arrival of the internet to the latest IT and smartphone technologies. Defence and the Combat Air sector must develop the tools and approaches to embrace the pace of technological change seen across all industrial sectors
“Our Combat Air capability will largely be based around Typhoon and F-35 for the coming decades. By investing in the continuous development of these capabilities we can ensure the future force remains world-class. We will continue to take the best of these capabilities and spiral-develop them into any future system we may develop. “
Mr Williamson added: “This Strategy defines a clear way ahead, to preserve our national advantage and maintain choice in how it is delivered. The Ministry of Defence will continue to invest in upgrading Typhoon, continuously improving its systems to achieve a ‘beyond-4th generation’ capability
“By implementing the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative, established by the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, including commencing the critical next phase of the National Programme, we will provide investment in key UK design engineering skills and a means to generate UK Intellectual Property.
“The Ministry of Defence will now initiate the UK’s capability acquisition programme to define and deliver the future capabilities required when Typhoon leaves Royal Air Force service. This will deliver a Strategic Outline Business Case for the Typhoon successor by the end of 2018, with an initial acquisition decision by the end of 2020.”
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.
BAE Systems said in a supporting document for the Combat Air Strategy: “At the Farnborough International Air Show a next generation fighter concept model was revealed showcasing key technologies that will be important in the future.
“The concept gives an indication of the types of technologies that we and our partners are developing and investing in so that we can deliver world leading capabilities for the future.
“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.”
BAE Systems has made a significant contribution to the development of engineering and technical skills in the UK.