The UK’s future combat air programme Tempest is set to drive productivity, innovation and skills development across the UK, according to new findings from professional services firm PwC.

The independent report has confirmed that the economic impact of the Tempest programme will be felt in every region of the UK, supporting an average of 21,000 jobs a year, with 70 per cent of the programme’s value generated in the North West, South West and East of England.

The Tempest programme is expected to generate long-term high value employment, with productivity per worker 78 per cent higher than the national average. The research suggests the programme could make a significant contribution to the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and the wider economy.

Team Tempest combines the expertise of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce. Working with international partners, the team is leading progress towards a UK-led internationally collaborative Future Combat Air System which will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies retain world-leading, independent military capability. Key to the success of Tempest will be delivering highly-advanced capability more rapidly and cost effectively than ever before.

Investment by industry and MOD in research and development for Tempest will generate positive benefits for the wider economy through applications of new technologies in other sectors and driving innovation in collaboration with hundreds of companies, SMEs and academic organisations.

The PwC report confirmed the expected impact of the Tempest programme will:

  • Make an estimated £26.2bn contribution to the UK economy between 2021 and 2050*;
  • Support on average 21,000 jobs per year, from development to operational service (2026-2050);
  • Create high productivity employment with an average GVA per worker of £101,000, 78 per cent higher than the UK national average and 42 per cent higher than the country’s manufacturing average;
  • Support significant benefits across regional economies.

Stimulating R&D in the UK’s regions

Diane Shaw, EMEA Aerospace, Defence and Security Consulting Leader, PwC, said: “As our research outlines, the scale of the Tempest programme is significant and expected to deliver wide-ranging benefits to the UK, stimulating investment in new technologies and promoting critical skills and capabilities that ensure the UK can continue to operate at the forefront of world-leading technology. The programme will stimulate R&D in regions most in need and generate wider economic benefits for these areas, supporting the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and contributing to the UK’s economic recovery and prosperity in the decades ahead.”

UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin added: “By investing in the R&D to support this national endeavour to create the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) alongside our partners, we are turbocharging our combat air industry. Situated at the heart of the country’s aerospace sector, investment in FCAS reaffirms the Government’s commitment to spend more than £2bn over the next four years, with additional investment from industry, to create military capabilities that will keep us and our allies safe whilst creating thousands of skilled jobs right across the UK.”

Adopting new digital working practices

Team Tempest partners are working collaboratively with UK industry, adopting new digital working practices to deliver technologically advanced capabilities and processes that drive efficiency and increase productivity. The partners are already engaged with more than 600 suppliers, SMEs and academic institutions across the UK, helping to deliver benefit beyond the defence sector.

ADS Chief Executive, Kevin Craven, said: “The Tempest programme will bring tens of thousands of skilled jobs that will provide rewarding careers, help to level up the UK economy, and build the advanced capabilities of our world-leading combat air industry. The contribution of SMEs will be vital to Tempest’s success and I hope our network of innovative supply chain companies will explore the opportunities to be involved in the programme and maximise the benefits to our sector and our national prosperity.”

There are currently more than 2,000 people employed across UK industry and the MOD on the programme. Combat Air activities of the four Team Tempest partners are expected as a whole to contribute £100.1bn to the UK economy and support 62,000 jobs per year between 2021 and 2050. Tempest also makes up an increasing share of the partners’ UK Combat Air activities and that of their supply chains, rising from around 12 per cent today to nearly 50 per cent of economic contribution by 2050 and is a crucial element of the aerospace and defence industry’s ongoing prosperity.

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