BAE Systems Tests UK's New Tempest Fighter Jet in Wind Tunnel

Using new digital techniques will speed up the process.
Fabienne Lang
3D model of the Tempest in the high speed wind tunnelBAE Systems

The U.K.'s upcoming sixth-generation fighter jet, the Tempest, will be designed using new digital techniques, per BAE Systems

There will be computer-simulated digital twins of the jet, as well as 3D-printed models that are meant to help speed up the project and simplify it. The current plan is for the jet to be ready for action by 2035. 


A new stealth fighter

The Tempest is being designed to complement current fighter aircrafts such as the F-35 Lightning II and the Typhoon fighters, which will stop operations in the 2040s. At that point, the Tempest fighter is meant to take over. 

The Tempest will have twin-engines, and be able to carry hypersonic missiles as well as control drone swarms. It'll also be able to power laser weapons thanks to Rolls-Royce's advanced propulsion system that will produce electricity. 

BAE Systems Tests UK's New Tempest Fighter Jet in Wind Tunnel
BAE Systems' high-speed tunnel, Source: BAE Systems/Twitter

In keeping with its futuristic look, the stealth fighter will also have reconfigurable AI and cyber-strong communications, which will enable it to be a flying command and control center all at once. 

However, its most exciting concept is being jointly developed by the U.K., Sweden, and Italy, which is a new digital system that's being developed by BAE Systems to minimize the time it takes from the drawing board until take off. 

As per BAE System's statement, the jet is being developed and designed through new digital techniques by using advanced computers that calculate its different aerodynamic features' performance. Moreover, pilots can test flying the twin-engined fighter jet through its digital twin in a ground-based simulator.

Paul Wilde, head of Airframe Technologies, said in the BAE statement "By taking an entirely digital approach to the challenge the UK Government has set us, we’re transforming the way we work and adding incredible value to the program. We can achieve what traditionally would have taken a number of months in a number of days. As a result, we’re working faster for the future, and we’re using the virtual environment to create endless opportunities for our engineers to experiment without boundaries, and with open minds – key to the future innovation of the program."

BAE Systems Tests UK's New Tempest Fighter Jet in Wind Tunnel
Conceptual design of the Tempest, Source: BAE Systems/Twitter

Not taking the task lightly, BAE Systems is working closely with Rolls-Royce, Leonardo, and MBDA to push forward technology in 60 areas. 

"Designing an aircraft has traditionally been an opportunity which comes up once in someone’s career which causes real challenges of transferring skills and knowledge," mentioned Michael Christie, Director of Future Combat Air Systems at BAE Systems.

"The technologies now available to us mean that we can reduce the design cycle which in itself is good for the affordability of a program, but we can also perform more cycles very quickly until we get it right. The UK Government has set us a significant challenge, but the program has some of the boldest and brightest minds on board, who are breaking milestones at an accelerated pace and developing technologies and techniques that will be game-changing for the UK defense industry and beyond." 

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