General Tod Wolters, the top US Air Force commander in Europe and for NATO, said the US hopes that Tempest—the UK’s new sixth-generation fighter jet program that DSJ reported on from last week at Farnborough—has interoperability with existing fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.
“That interoperability with fourth-generation capability, that interoperability with fifth-generation capability is powerful, and that, I’m certain, is probably something that the UK is looking very closely at,” Wolters said during a teleconference. “We would hope that it would be as interoperable as possible with the great system that they just acquired and they just received at Marham like the F-35B.”
Wolters also said he had not had any conversations with his counterparts in the UK specific to this aircraft, instead offering “we certainly had conversations about future systems” more broadly.
The British Government unveiled its commitment at Day 1 of Farnborough to spend £2 billion ($2.65 billion) between now and 2025 to develop the new sixth-generation fighter aircraft Tempest, an optionally-manned fighter aircraft meant to replace the EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON.
BAE Systems will lead the industry consortium on Team Tempest, which includes the UK’s Rolls-Royce, Italy’s Leonardo and pan-European missile maker MBDA. The program is also said to be looking for international partners. Sweden and Italy have been rumored as prospective Tempest partners, as have Japan and Turkey.
It is expected that other industry players will be involved in the so-called Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI) program and it is projected that the new aircraft will be operational around 2035, five years before the EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON retirement date.
“One of the key ingredients that has to go into any future system is to make sure that it’s interoperable with existing systems,” Wolters said.