UK's Tempest fighter jet project could support 20,000 jobs, says BAE Systems

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LONDON (Reuters) - Tempest, the British-led project to build a new fighter jet, could support 20,000 jobs in the country and add 25 billion pounds to the UK economy, said BAE Systems BAES.L as it tries to drum up more government backing for the project.

BAE, the UK's Britain’s biggest defence company, British engine maker Rolls-Royce RR.L, European missile maker MBDA and Italy's Leonardo LDOF.MI are amongst the companies working on the jet, which is meant to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon from 2040.

The initial findings of an independent report carried out by PwC said that over the first 30 years of the project, Tempest would contribute at least 25.3 billion pounds to Britain, and support an average of 20,000 jobs every year between 2026-2050.

The team working on Tempest will use the findings to help convince the government when they present an outline business case for the jet towards the end of the year.

Securing a successor for the Typhoon will help preserve Britain’s independent military jet capability and provide skilled jobs, said BAE in a Team Tempest statement on Thursday.

Since 2018 when Britain launched the project, the economic outlook has worsened. The pandemic has put the country’s finances under huge pressure, meaning Tempest will have to compete even harder for government funds.

“Defence programmes like Tempest offer an invaluable opportunity to secure a recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis,” said Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of aerospace and defence industry body ADS.

Britain is working on the new jet with partner nations Italy and Sweden.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden