At a time of unprecedented economic challenges, the Government will have to make tough decisions. It’s more important than ever that we find new ways of designing and building military equipment to ensure these capabilities, which are essential to our national security, are adaptable and affordable.

Tempest is a great example. BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA are working together with the Royal Air Force to design and develop a future combat air system that will be both cutting-edge and cost-effective. This critical partnership will ensure that the UK maintains its position at the forefront of the combat air sector and that our Air Force is capable of tackling and defeating the rapid technological advancements being made by our adversaries.

Together, and working closely with our trades unions, we’ve continued work on Tempest throughout the pandemic with the support of more than 1,800 people, including hundreds of apprentices. We will increase the size of this team to more than 2,500 by next year, providing job opportunities at all levels at this critical time in the country’s economic recovery.

We’re investing in game-changing digital technologies and skills, reaching beyond the traditional defence sector to bring the very best in innovation to the project.

The core partners have already engaged with more than 600 suppliers, SMEs and academic institutions across the UK as we drive further advances in areas such as virtual and augmented realities, 3D printing and robotic assembly.

This fresh approach is part of the mission to deliver Tempest faster than previous combat air systems – and at lower cost.

Investment in cutting-edge defence innovation will create a huge reservoir of highly skilled experts in industrial digitisation, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and virtual and augmented reality that are crucial to our future as a leading manufacturing nation.

This will help the UK emerge stronger, fitter and better placed to counter whatever challenges we face in the future.


Charles Woodburn is chief executive of BAE Systems

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