Britain's Ministry of Defense has signed off on a $349 million contract to design and develop the Tempest, Britain's Future Combat Air System, officials said Thursday.
The contract was signed by BAE Systems this week and the program's concept and assessment phase have started, which includes investment in the required skilled workforce, the company said in a press release.
"Boosting our already world-leading air industry, the contract will sustain thousands of jobs across [Britain] and will ensure that [Britain] remains at the top table when it comes to combat air," Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a press release on Thursday.
The FCAS will put the Royal Air Force and its allies in line with world-leading and independent military capability, according to BAE Systems.
The government said the FCAS will combine core aircraft with capabilities of being uncrewed, forming a "next-generation mix" expected to be ready for service sometime in the mid-2030s.
The $349 million investment announced this week will grow further, officials say, with more than $2.79 billion expected to be spent on the effort over the next four years.
BAE Systems is one of four founding members of Team Tempest. Others include Leonardo UK, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK.
"Today marks a momentous step in the next phase of our Future Combat Air System, with a multi-million pound investment that draws on the knowledge and skills of our U.K. industry experts," Wallace said.
Copyright 2021 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent., source International Top News