tempest fighter rsSometimes, especially in global turmoil and loads of flip-flopping news items, it is hard to begin to know where things are heading. Indeed, it is often even harder to determine if the nonsense said one day and un-Tweeted the next has any lasting effect or actually is taken seriously by anyone, anywhere. On the global stage there are often signs way after the effect, or Tweet, or lies, or executive orders have caught the news. So how are you, people who just want to know what the future may hold, supposed to glean any clue? Watch advanced technologies.

Decisions in advanced technologies always have to take two things into consideration: First, they know their lead times for development of any system is years if not decades, so they really have to be sure before they launch a system development program. Second, because of the importance of any advanced technologies for trade, employment, taxation and, never least (if this is a defense development) national security – the decision makers have to make and come to a firm, definite, no-going-back decision.

For example, the one-size-fits-all super fighter plane, the F35 is not quite what was promised. The Marines are not thrilled with the jump-jet version and are hanging on to their older Harriers and ordering more Osprey tilt-rotors. The Navy is taking a slew of the F35s, true, but somehow also opting for upgrading as many F18s as possible. The AF is having to take the bulk of the F35s but have advanced F22 deployment. Why? Because the F22 is a better defense fighter, higher altitude efficiency, better over-the-horizon capability.
So when defending the nation they prefer the F22, saving the F35 as an in-theater and ground attack fighter (this last which it was not really designed for). On top of all this, NATO was supposed to be buying 65 or more F35s. But NATO is already scaling that back and, what's worse, both the EU and Britain has asked for the F22 instead (but this administration has denied that request to force purchase of the F35 to keep the plane's cost down for the US taxpayer). So? So, they have recently announced cutting F35 purchases a bit and they are starting to build their own planes.

This month, at the Farnborough Airshow, the UK unveiled their Tempest aircraft design and mock-up. They had it ready already, they had been working on it for a year and are pushing ahead with development and system design. From AvWeek: "At this year's Farnborough Airshow, the UK unveiled the Tempest, a twin-engine combat aircraft concept.
This is the second new European fighter concept, after the Franco-German Future Combat Aircraft System that was announced in April.... The countries involved in these projects see two important reasons to proceed with a new fighter. First, the Trump administration has created uncertainty about U.S. reliability as a NATO ally as Vladimir Putin's Russia continues to loom as a significant threat. This has boosted interest in purely European solutions, rather than relying on future U.S. aircraft...."

That just about explains part of the global perspective and should give you an indication of where we're headed (currently, sadly).