United Kingdom reveals fighter jet 'Tempest' for post-Brexit era

The Tempest which could be flown by a pilot or as a drone will be armed with lasers as well as conventional weapons

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson revealed the Tempest concept at Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire.

The aircraft, which is earmarked to replace the existing Typhoon fighter jet, will be developed and manufactured by BAE Systems, engine-maker Rolls Royce, and Italy's Leonardo, a global high-tech company that specializes in aerospace, defense and security.

Tack also said that this "program is the British response to seeing Dassault (France) turn towards the Franco-German fighter", Tack added. "I have to be optimistic".

The Tempest is being developed as part of a strategy to not only bolster Britain's defenses, but to maintain the country's aerospace design and manufacturing sector, attract worldwide partners to help in the Tempest's development, and to produce a variant of the aircraft suitable for the export market.

Analysts have said Sweden was the most likely partner, although countries like South Korea, Japan and Turkey, or Gulf arms-buying nations like Saudi Arabia, were also possibilities.

BAE showed off a model of the new warplane, Tempest, on Monday, linking up with a group of industrial partners to fulfil a government plan for the new combat jet which it said would need worldwide partners to help develop.

It is hoped that the jet will enter service in 2035 as an eventual replacement for Typhoon, which is due to remain in service until about 2040.

The chief executive of BAE Systems said the aim was to bring in worldwide partners to help develop Britain's new fighter jet by the end of 2019. There are concerns in Britain that its defense industry may be shut out from European Union plans for next-generation fighter jets, although, officially, both projects have invited other companies to join.

Britain has not developed a fighter jet alone since the 1960s.

When asked about the possibility of the United Kingdom project joining up with a rival Franco-German plan to build a new fighter jet, he said he believed the United Kingdom government was "open-minded" about who those worldwide partners could be. "We're proud to play a key role in this important programme, with our world-leading technology, capability and skills, which will contribute to the UK's defence and prosperity for decades to come".

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