A concept model for a new fighter jet has been unveiled by the British government at the Farnborough International Air Show.
Named Tempest, the jet can be either flown by a pilot or operated remotely.
The aircraft is the beginnings of work on the next generation of combat aircraft which will eventually replace the current Typhoon jets.
That won’t happen until 2035 at least but the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced an initial £2bn for further research.
“We have been a world leader in the combat air sector for a century, with an enviable array of skills and technology, and this strategy makes clear that we are determined to make sure it stays that way.
Image: New aircraft will replace the current Typhoon jets
“It shows our allies that we are open to working together to protect the skies in an increasingly threatening future – and this concept model is just a glimpse into what the future could look like,” the defence secretary said at the launch.
Mr Williamson said that the UK was not against collaborating with other countries when it came to building the new jet.
The new funding will allow research and development on the next generation fighter – the final product will look very different to its current concept form and will include technology not yet dreamed up.
A final decision on how many jets to order and at what cost will be made by 2025, with the aim then for a next-generation aircraft to be operational by 2035.
A Ministry of Defence press release, accompanying the launch, claims that the UK is already “a world-leader in the combat air sector, with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe, supporting over 18,000 highly skilled jobs”.
It added: “The sector delivers a turnover in excess of £6bn a year and has made up over 80% of defence exports from the UK over the last 10 years.”
Image: The new aircraft, whatever it looks like, will not come into service until 2035
The unveiling was part of the launch of the UK’s long-awaited Combat Air Strategy which is intended to protect key skills.
It has been welcomed by the aviation and defence industry which has previously been concerned about the effect of Brexit.
Commenting at the Farnborough, BAE Systems chief executive Charles Woodburn said: “The UK’s combat air capability, built by generations of committed and highly skilled people through a century long partnership between the RAF and industry, is admired the world over.
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“The UK government’s Combat Air Strategy is a powerful statement of intent to invest in next generation combat air systems.
“We’re proud to play a key role in this important programme, with our world leading technology, capability and skills, which will contribute to the UK’s defence and prosperity for decades to come.”