LONDON --- Britain’s military chiefs are spending much of their time grappling with a £20bn shortfall in the UK’s defence equipment budget.
So, when defence secretary Gavin Williamson revealed plans in July for the UK to develop a multi billion pound, next generation fighter jet, some dismissed his proposals as a pipe dream.
However, almost two months on from the unveiling of the jet dubbed the Tempest, Ministry of Defence officials and executives from the four companies backing the project — BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce — are busy developing a business case to underpin Mr Williamson’s ambitious vision.
“We are at the beginning of what’s going to be quite a long journey,” said Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS, the UK aerospace and defence trade body.
The business case for Tempest is meant to be completed by the end of the year, but the government is not due to make a final investment decision on the project until 2025, with the aim of delivering the first jet by 2035.
While the government, industry executives and analysts insist Tempest is essential to sustaining the UK’s combat aerospace sector, which has an annual turnover of more than £6bn and supports 18,000 highly skilled jobs, critics complain about inadequate information and predict the project will not happen. (end of excerpt)
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