Luton aerospace company Leonardo to provide advanced systems for new fighter jet

Artist's impression of the new fighter jet flying over Rome's ColosseumArtist's impression of the new fighter jet flying over Rome's Colosseum
Artist's impression of the new fighter jet flying over Rome's Colosseum
The programme could support more than 22k jobs in the East of England

Luton aerospace engineering company Leonardo is on track to provide advanced sensor technology for a new generation of combat air fighter jet, following an historic agreement signed between the governments of the UK, Italy and Japan.

Stevenage-based MBDA is also supporting the project.

The newly-announced Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) could bring in an estimated £1.1 billion to the East of England economy and support more than 22,000 jobs in the area.

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Leonardo’s Electronics UK MD Mark Hamilton said: “The emergence of a single international programme, backed by three governments, represents a strong vote of confidence to deliver the programme.

"At Leonardo, we are privileged to be a core part of this endeavour ensuring that our Armed Forces can effectively respond to the threats of the future.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the country’s security would always be of paramount importance to the government.

He continued: “That’s why we need to stay at the cutting edge of advancements in defence technology – outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm.

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"The international partnership we have announced today aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible.

"The next generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives.”

The new GCAP is an ambitious project to develop next generation fighter aircraft by 2035.

It will build on the progress already made by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls Royce and the Ministry of Defence who have been working in partnership as Team Tempest since 2018. This is focused on researching, evaluating and developing a host of future combat air systems capabilities.

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Leonardo is at the heart of the project, working on the future aircraft’s integrated sensing, non-kinetic effects and integrated communications.

GCAP is expected to benefit local schools and universities with plans to create a new Masters degree in Applied Artificial Intelligence, ensuring training and qualification are in place.

It is hoped GCAP will generate long-term benefits for the three partner countries and inspire the next generation of engineering talent.