Farnes, England (Reuters) – UK defense secretary Gavin Williamson presented a model of the new Tempest aircraft planned for the country at the Farnborough Airshow, saying he would look for international partners to develop the project.
The government said £ 2 billion ($ 2.7 billion) was allocated to finance the project by 2025 and that additional funding from its industrial partners would be made available for the project.
The aircraft that will replace the Typhoon fighter will be developed and built by the industrial partner BAE Systems ( BAES.L ), Britain's largest defense company, along with the British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce ( RR.L ), Italian defense company Leonardo ( LDOF.MI ) and the European MBDA missile manufacturer.
Williamson spoke at the Farnborough Airshow in front of a huge screen that was taken away to reveal Tempest's slim, gray-sized version of Tempest, the cockpit window in the pointy nose above a white belly.
Britain wants to find an international partner to help develop the jet, and Williamson turns to the crowd, which was full of military leaders who were in the BAE Systems chalet to see the model.
"Our approach depends on international cooperation," he said.
"My question to potential partners in today's room is simple, how can you work with us, how can we work with you?"
Marshal of the Air Force Simon Rochelle of the British Royal Air Force said that Britain has talks with a number of potential partner countries, including Sweden and Japan.
Analysts have said that Sweden is considered the most likely partner, although countries like South Korea, Japan and Turkey or Gulf-acquired countries such as Saudi Arabia are options.
According to plans, the new jet should be operational by 2035 and replace the Typhoon fleet, which is expected to retire in 2040.
The new jet will be operated by a pilot on the plane, but will also be unmanned.
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Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans on Monday when she opened the airshow.
"I want to announce the exit of the British hunting strategy which confirms our commitment to maintaining our world-class aeronautical capabilities," he said.
The UK project is coming because Britain will leave the European Union in less than nine months.
It will face the competition of a competing European project after France announced in June that it will take a leading role in a new combat program. It would begin as a bilateral effort with Germany, which could subsequently be extended.
The Typhoon, however, was developed over the 80s by the group of four nations from Germany, Spain, Britain and Italy.
Michael Christie, Director of Strategy Director at Air Europe, said that Britain could develop Tempest on its own, but it makes sense to develop it with a partner, as it will secure future sales.
"Partnership is a reality in today's defense market, and it's very rare for large capital programs to be conducted on their own, and it's very rare for someone to develop something and simply sell it," he said.
Britain has not developed a fighter jet since the '60s. However, he contributed to the development and construction of the most advanced stealth fighter in the British fleet, the US-made F-35, with BAE Systems accounting for about 15% of the work on each jet.
Airbus ( AIR.PA ) and its longtime competitor Dassault Aviation ( AVMD.PA ), have agreed to collaborate on the Franco-German project.
The MBDA rocket manufacturer is jointly owned by Airbus ( AIR.PA ), BAE Systems and Leonardo.
Reporting by Sarah Young; Additional coverage by Andrew Shalal, edited by Paul Sandle and Mark Potter