The Tempest Program Could be a Jobs Creator for the UK – Military programs are big business – so much so that many lawmakers contend that a “military-industrial complex” mentality still exists. However, thrghout human history, weapons have created jobs, and that is a fact that remains true today. The more advanced the program, the more jobs it could create.
Such is certainly the case with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which reportedly has created more than 254,000 indirect and indirect jobs. Moreover, the program has an annual economic impact of some $65 billion and involves some 1,650 high-tech suppliers and 1,000 small business corps.
Though the UK may not see as significant a boost to the economy from its Future Combat Air System (FCAS) or Tempest – and not to be confused with the French/German/Spanish-led program also known as FCAS – already the sixth-generation stealth fighter program is creating new jobs. This month, lead contractor BAE Systems launched a recruitment drive to find 1,000 engineers to develop a new fighter jet.
The aerospace defense giant is now hiring engineers, manufacturers, software specialists, and various other professions. The bulk of these new recruits will be in Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, as well as Brough, East Yorkshire, and Prestwick, South Ayrshire.
“Recruits will work on the ‘once in a lifetime’ Tempest project as well as the existing batch of Typhoon jets and other future products,” said Cliff Robson, BAE Air business managing director.
Robson, who started as a BAE engineer 39 years ago, said the Tempest could play a vital part in Britain’s ambitions to retain its military might.
“Without Tempest, we lose the sovereign capability in terms of military aircraft and fast jets, which is essential if you want security and defence of the country,” Robson told the Lancashire Telegraph. “Britain must ensure it is prepared for any conflict, even on home soil, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ‘reawakened’ military tensions.”
Tempest as a Jobs Builder
The Tempest was first unveiled by the British Ministry of Defence four years ago in July 2018, and at the time, the British government announced that it would spend £2bn to develop the aircraft between then and 2025. The goal of the program has been to deliver a capable, flexible and affordable system by the mid-2030s, providing military, economic, and industrial benefits to the UK as well as its international program partners.
Supporters of the program have cited the job creation that the Tempest program could create.
Around 2,500 skilled professionals are currently employed in the FCAS program across the UK and that figure will likely grow as development progresses. Partners within Team Tempest include BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK, and MDBA UK.
“There has never been a more exciting and rewarding time to be involved in this industry because we are re-designing how the world’s air forces will operate for generations,” said BAE Systems Air Technology and Manufacturing Director Dave Holmes.
“The announcement of our FCAS flying demonstrator is the starting point for a surge towards creating the technologies that will make a real difference to our national defence and security, protecting those who protect us,” added Holmes. “But that programme is just one of many similar programmes where we need engineers to work on, such as developing the next generation of capabilities on Typhoon or engineering how pilots train in the future. We don’t just need engineers but also manufacturers and all the people in supporting roles who make a programme like this happen.”
The British Ministry of Defense currently plans to have the Tempest FCAS manufactured in significant numbers by 2035, which could allow the sixth-generation aircraft to take the role currently employed by the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.