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Saudi Arabia to join UK Future Combat Air System programme



by Gareth Jennings

Saudi Arabia has said it intends to join the UK in its Future Combat Air System programme, although it is unclear if this includes involvement in the Tempest/Global Combat Air Programme it will ultimately deliver. (BAE Systems)

Saudi Arabia signed a declaration of intent (DOI) to join the United Kingdom’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme.

Saudi Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman announced the DOI was signed with his UK counterpart, Ben Wallace, on 1 March during a meeting in Riyadh on wider defence co-operation between the two countries.

“We signed a declaration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s [KSA’s] intent to participate in the Future Combat Air System programme, which will strengthen KSA’s defensive capabilities through a comprehensive partnership that includes joint production and research and development projects for future air systems,” bin Salman tweeted from his official account.

Currently in its concept and assessment phase, the FCAS programme comprises the FCAS Technology Initiative (FCAS TI) and the FCAS Acquisition Programme (FCAS AP), and is geared at delivering the technology that will augment and then replace the Eurofighter Typhoon in UK Royal Air Force (RAF) service.

In conjunction with this effort, Team Tempest, which includes the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the four primary industry partners of BAE Systems, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce, and MBDA, is developing with Italian industry the Tempest ‘sixth-generation’ combat aircraft that will sit at the heart of FCAS (a demonstrator is set to fly by 2027).

In turn, the UK-Italian Tempest will be merged with the Japanese F-X programme under the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) announced in December 2022. The development phase of this project is due to be launched in 2024.

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Saudi Arabia signed a declaration of intent (DOI) to join the United Kingdom’s Future Combat Air Sys…

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