Tempest Jet Fighter to Support 20,000 Jobs, BAE Says

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Britain’s new Tempest warplane will support 20,000 jobs for a quarter of a century, many of them in less wealthy parts of the country,BAE Systems Plc said as it set out the economic benefits of the program.

Tempest development already employs 1,800 people, a figure that will reach 2,500 next year before running at the peak level between 2026 and 2050, BAE said Thursday, citing PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP. The jet should contribute 25 billion pounds ($32 billion) to the economy over 30 years, the study suggests.

Current plans envisage the Tempest joining the Royal Air Force fleet in 2035, a deadline that program member MBDA, Europe’s biggest missile maker, called “racy” in a presentation on the program, since it represents about half of the usual timescale for a fighter. Short cuts should be achieved with the aid of technologies including 3-D printing and digital testing.

The Tempest is being developed by BAE with firms includingLeonardo SpA of Italy, its partner on the current Eurofighter Typhoon warplane, and engine makerRolls-Royce Holdings Plc. The consortium is setting out economic and employment benefits as it prepares to pitch an outline business case to the U.K. government this year after receiving an initial 2 billion pounds of funding.

The program would further Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for “leveling up” the U.K. economy, according to the presentation, with some 80% of jobs located away from London and the southeast. BAE’s Eurofighter production is focused on factories in northern England.

The aircraft could feature a so-called wearable cockpit, a development of existing head-up display systems in which information is projected inside the visor of a pilot’s helmet, as well as a “virtual copilot” that would handle certain responsibilities and could even take the form of an avatar.

The plane itself, which could be jet, hybrid or electric powered, might be accompanied by a fleet of combat drones.

Airbus SE, the other Eurofighter partner, has thrown in its lot withDassault Aviation SA, producer of the Rafafe fighter, to develop a rival offering known only as the future combat air system or FCAS.

Military analysts have said the two projects could combine in the future and that Europe can no longer afford to fund competing warplane designs.

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