The Government’s new Combat Air Strategy must set out a roadmap to enable UK industry to provide the Royal Air Force and international partners with the next generation of military air capability.

ADS today sets out its recommendations for a Combat Air Strategy stressing the importance of sustaining high value aerospace design skills, timely decision making and an attractive proposition for potential partners and export customers.

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said:

“UK industry welcomes Government’s commitment to a future combat air strategy. Our world-class military aircraft have helped protect the nation throughout the past 100 years and preparing for future threats now will ensure national security and contribute to our country’s prosperity.

“A successful strategy needs to include a long-term commitment, a clear timetable for decisions and the resources to sustain essential industrial capability.

“An ambitious combat air strategy will encourage greater public and private sector investment in technology, innovation and high value design skills in UK.

“Industry and Government working in partnership will demonstrate serious intent and encourage engagement with international partners looking to address their own security requirements and build important defence and industrial relationships.”

Industry priorities for the new combat air strategy include:

  1. Providing the investment needed to maintain the UK defence industry’s leading international position in combat air capability.
  2. Supporting the development of innovative intellectual property in the UK by driving forward a vision for UK research and development, and high value design.
  3. Creating an internationally competitive offer for UK export markets to secure the customers needed to support a successful and sustainable programme.
  4. Delivering a long-term outlook that enables the decision-making needed to achieve a seamless transition from current combat aircraft to future generations, protecting our national security.

The current generation of combat aircraft will start to go out of service in 2040. The long-term nature of a new programme to develop the next generation of combat air capability requires early commitment and a clear timetable for future decisions.

Practical steps towards a successful combat air strategy should include establishing a high value design centre – with benefits beyond the defence sector – to cut the costs and timescales associated with designing, developing new certifying new aircraft and air systems.

As well as providing the Royal Air Force and the air forces of the UK’s international allies with world-leading military aircraft, combat aerospace is a major contributor to the UK economy:

The economic value of combat aerospace to the UK includes:

  • Jobs – 31,000 direct employees in a high value industry.

  • Exports – 85 per cent of UK defence exports come from aerospace.

  • Turnover – £8.3bn a year generated for the UK economy.