Tempest programme will stimulate economic and digital growth

01 June 2021 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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A new study produced by PwC and Strategy& estimates that the economic impact of the Tempest programme will be felt in every region of the UK. Projects to support the new generation of fighter jets could create an average of 21,000 jobs a year, with 70% of the programme’s value generated in the North West, South West and East of England.

In 2018, the UK launched its Combat Air Strategy which set out the government’s ambition for the nation’s future Combat Air capability; ensuring the UK developed the necessary technology, skill-sets and warfare capability to maintain operational advantage and safeguard UK air defence and security for the next generation. Tempest is a multi-decade programme that forms a key part of that strategy, providing the Royal Air Force and its allies with a highly advanced military capability to counter an increasingly complex and data driven battlespace.

Delivered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce, the Tempest programme, the project is also set to play an important role in helping the UK to be a leader in the development of digital technologies, according to a report by Big Four firm PwC and its strategy wing Strategy&.

Productivity of Tempest programme workers compared to similar UK industry sectors

The paper found that Team Tempest is already working with UK industry, embracing an agile approach, and adopting new digital working practices to deliver technologically advanced capabilities and processes that drive efficiency and increase productivity – and has engaged with more than 600 suppliers, SMEs and academic institutions across the UK.

Speaking on the ways the project can deliver benefit beyond the defence sector, UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin commented, “By investing in the R&D to support this national endeavour to create the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) alongside our partners, we are turbocharging our combat air industry. Situated at the heart of the country’s aerospace sector, investment in FCAS reaffirms the Government’s commitment to spend more than £2 billion over the next four years, with additional investment from industry, to create military capabilities that will keep us and our allies safe whilst creating thousands of skilled jobs right across the UK.”

According to the research, investment by industry and MOD in research and development for the Tempest will generate positive spill-over benefits for the wider economy through applications of new technologies in other sectors and driving innovation in collaboration with hundreds of companies, SMEs and academic organisations. Meanwhile, the innovative techniques deployed mean the study estimates its productivity per worker will be 78% higher than the national average, and 42% higher than the average productivity of British manufacturing, underlining how the programme could also make a significant contribution to the UK Government’s levelling up priorities, and the wider economy.

On a national level, the analysts forecast that these advances will contribute £26.2 billion to the UK economy by 2050. At the same time, it should support on average 21,000 jobs per year, from development to operational service, from 2026 until 2050, and support significant localised benefits too.

The Tempest programme supports all UK regions providing  economic and employment benefit across the country

In particular, the North West, South West, East Midlands and East of England seem positioned to benefit to the tune of billions of pounds in gross value added (GVA). East Anglia and the East Midlands can each expect more than £1 billion in GVA, along with more than 750 jobs being supported each, while the South West sees this rise to £2.6 billion in GVA and more than 2,000 annual jobs.

However, due to its technological links and major investment in digital infrastructure in recent years, the North West looks best positioned to benefit from the Tempest programme. According to the research, the region may see almost £8 billion in GVA, and some 5,000 highly skilled jobs per year directly employed in the programme and the first tier of its supply chain.

Speaking on the findings, Diane Shaw, EMEA Aerospace, Defence and Security Consulting Leader, PwC, commented, “As our research outlines, the scale of the Tempest programme is significant and expected to deliver wide-ranging benefits to the UK, stimulating investment in new technologies and promoting critical skills and capabilities that ensure the UK can continue to operate at the forefront of world-leading technology.”