The UK Ministry of Defence plans to conduct a future test campaign using a low-cost unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator, with the work to build on the lessons learned from previous activities including its BAE Systems-led Taranis programme.

"This UCAS would see a significant reduction in its cost and development time compared to traditional combat air systems, and a potential future requirement would include the development and manufacture of the proposed design, and the conduct of a limited flight-test programme," says the MoD, which held an industry day for interested parties on 13 March.

These include BAE, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, which have formed "Team Tempest" to pursue the opportunity.

Royal Air Force chief of the air staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier tells FlightGlobal that the UK-only initiative will run alongside an existing Anglo-French future combat air system activity. "We are a powerful aviation nation: we can do platforms, propulsion, sensors, weapons and information," he says, adding: "It's a vital industry for the UK."