We speculate on the implications of two announcements today from the Farnborough Air Show.
The first concerns the UK’s planned new fighter jet, the Tempest, which has just been unveiled.
The BBC reports:
‘The craft will eventually replace the existing Typhoon fighter jet. It will be developed and built by BAE Systems, engine maker Rolls-Royce, Italy’s Leonardo and missiles expert MBDA.
Aerospace giant Airbus embraced the move: “Airbus welcomes the UK’s commitment of funding for the future fighter project. We look forward to continuing collaborative discussions with all relevant European players.”
Earlier, the chief executive of BAE Systems, Charles Woodburn, told the BBC’s Today programme that the new jet would be some time in coming. He said, “We already have the Typhoon platform which forms the absolute bedrock of European air defence and that’ll be in service for decades to come,” and he added that the inner workings of the new craft would start life within the Typhoon.’
We note that MBDA is a European developer and manufacturer of missiles. It was formed by a merger of French Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles, Italian Alenia Marconi Systems and British Matra BAe Dynamics in December 2001.
So it seems the Tempest will be metric like its predecessor, the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The second announcement, this time by the Government, concerns the UK’s space programme:
The government press release says:
‘• Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland and develop innovative technologies in Reading, Berkshire with support from two UK Space Agency grants totalling £23.5 million.
• A further £5.5 million will go to British company Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, as part of Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.’
A possible issue here is the involvement of ‘global space leader’ Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin UK Limited (LMUK) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, headquartered in London. The company was created in 1999, combining all of Lockheed Martin’s UK operations into one company. However, Lockheed Martin is an American aerospace, defence, security and advanced technologies company with worldwide interests. Its headquarters are in Maryland, USA.
So whose measurement system will be used? Will this be ‘America first’? Perhaps another Mars Orbiter in the making? And does the UK Government see a place for Imperial and US Customary measurements in its ‘modern Industrial Strategy’ – some of them worked for George Stephenson and Joseph Whitworth after all!