Air System (FOAS)
The 1998 Strategic Defense Review [SDR], in recognising that the UK faces a very different security environment from that of the Cold War, emphasised that risks still remain to UK security. International instability is likely to become more prevalent. The combat power of dangerous regimes assumes more significance as democratic countries reduce their armaments and there is an increasing risk from the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical technologies.
If UK forces are to be effective in this uncertain future, they must be structured and equipped to conduct force projection and expeditionary warfare. The SDR recognised that UK forces will normally be involved in multi-national operations based on NATO, UN, WEU or ad hoc coalitions. As different coalition partners will have varying capabilities, and US involvement cannot be assumed, the UK will require balanced, coherent forces, inherently flexible and deployable, and capable of operating effectively alongside forces from other countries. This balanced capability will also be required to fulfil the requirements of those exceptional circumstances when the UK will operate independently.
Part of the SDR process was the study of future offensive air power requirements, balancing the need for FOAS with that for future aircraft carriers and carrier-borne aircraft. Long-range air attack was found to remain important both as an integral part of war-fighting and as a coercive instrument to support political objectives.
The system must be flexible, and capable of all-weather, day/night operation at all levels. It must also be survivable in a high-threat environment. The trend towards more and more out-of-area operations make it essential that the system is easily supported, without the need for significant deployment of support equipment and personnel into theatre.
The FOAS requirement might not necessarily be satisfied in full by a single concept. Studies to define the most cost-effective solution are continuing. Possible solutions include a "force mix" approach of manned aircraft, UAVs and CALCMs although the exact nature, numbers and costs of these systems has not yet been decided.
Major milestones in the future are:
The FOAS programme aims to provide the UK
with a long-range offensive air capability to replace that currently provided by Tornado
GR4. The FOAS solution should provide operational flexibility and utility across the range
of military tasks outlined in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR). FOAS is predicted
to enter service in about 20 years, at which point the Tornado GR4 airframes will have
been in service for nearly 40 years and flown more than twice as many hours as their
original design life.
- completion of the concept feasibility studies and launch of the Assessment phase for technology risk reduction and further system definition - 2001;
- solution selection - in about 10 years;
- entry to service - in about 20 years.
Following a number of minor study
programmes for generic future combat aircraft dating back to the late 1980s, the current
FOAS Feasibility Studies were launched in October 1997. Since then four major activity
streams have been undertaken:
FOAS is one of the pilot Integrated Project Teams (IPTs) within MOD's Smart Procurement Initiative. This IPT includes representatives from all areas of MOD involved in the project as well as DERA and Industry - by mid 1999 there should be half a dozen full-time DERA and Industry team members and more part-time support.
Within the Concept Studies there is a loosely-formed FOAS Alliance representing British Aerospace Military Aircraft and Aerostructures, Marconi Electronic Systems, Rolls-Royce and Smiths Industries. These companies have teamed strategically to ensure a consistent approach to the studies and, at working level, have formed IPTs to perform the study work. The largest of these IPT structures is at British Aerospace's Warton site, where more than 100 engineers are studying a wide range of both UAV and manned aircraft concepts along with MOD staff. Additionally there are other contractor teams led by Logica, Aerosystems International and Matra-BAe Dynamics who are primarily studying UAV and CALCM concepts. All of the teams, in conjunction with MOD and DERA staff, are looking into the balance and capabilities of these individual concepts when they are brought together into a mixed force.
Within the proposed Technology Demonstration Programme there will be a series of contractor groupings, with a different make-up for each TDP. The members of these groups range from the large airframe suppliers, through engine and avionics manufacturers to specialist materials and components suppliers with proportional representation from UK and French industry.
- Requirements development - following the SDR work continues to
develop the concepts for future offensive operations;
- Solution studies - DERA and Industry teams have been examining the
feasibility and cost effectiveness of a wide range of solutions within the various
categories identified so far - manned combat aircraft (new and derivative designs and
off-the-shelf solutions), Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) and Conventionally-armed Air
Launched Cruise Missiles (CALCMs);
- Technology Demonstration Programme (TDP) - a joint approach to the
acquisition of technologies for future combat aircraft with the French Government and UK
and French industry has resulted in a set of joint and separate technology programme
proposals with a wide range of UK and French suppliers;
- Business Systems - reflecting MOD's Smart Procurement Initiative, the
project is beginning to implement novel practices and technologies in the areas of systems
engineering, electronic commerce, data sharing and synthetic environments.
Sources and Resources
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Thursday, March 11, 1999 7:47:49 PM