The UK may still be working to improve the capabilities of the RAF’s Typhoon – the backbone of the country’s current combat air fleet – and the fifth-generation F-35B is only just beginning to reach the front line, but work is already under way to develop the next generation of fighter.
The UK announced Initial Operating Capability (IOC) Land (L) for its F-35 Lightning Force and IOC for the Typhoon upgraded under the multirole Project ‘Centurion’ effort at RAF Marham, Norfolk, on January 10. The then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson declared the F-35 “ready for operations” and noted that “a transformed Typhoon has the power to dominate the skies into the 2040s”. Alongside examples of these jets was a possible glimpse of the future fighter that could replace the Typhoon and complement the F-35B. The project might be in its infancy, but the mock-up of the Tempest manned combat aircraft at Marham was testament to the “ambitious future” of UK air power that Williamson outlined.