British fighter jet systems to be tested on passenger plane

British fighter jet systems to be tested on passenger plane
Image from Boeing

Developers of the promising British fighter of the new generation Tempest will test its on-board systems on a modified passenger aircraft Boeing 757. According to Aviation Week, the British maintenance operator 2Excel Aviation has already received such a aircraft for its repair and conversion into a flying laboratory.

Flying laboratories are traditionally used to test new on-board systems and engines of promising aircraft. Equipment installed in such laboratories allows recording all aspects of the testing systems, which makes it possible to significantly simplify and accelerate their further development.

As a flying laboratory for testing avionics, a radar station, an optoelectronic system and other Tempest sensors, the Boeing 757 airliner, previously owned by the TUI tour operator, will be used. This aircraft was assembled 24 years ago.

It is expected that the repair and conversion of the Boeing 757 into a flying laboratory will be completed at the end of 2019 – or early 2020. At the beginning of next year, the aircraft, equipped with all the necessary measuring equipment and workplaces of specialists, is to be hand over to the Ministry of Defense, UK.

It is expected that the Boeing 757-based flying laboratory, when not involved in the Tempest project, will be used to test new systems and advanced weapons for Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II fighters.

The Tempest fighter concept was unveiled by the British Department of Defence in the middle of last year. The military plans to use the new aircraft along with the F-35 and Typhoon. The new fighter is scheduled to enter service in the mid-2030s. Italian Leonardo group, as well as British companies BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and MBDA UK,  are involved in the project of aircraft development.

It is assumed that the promising fighter will be executed by a high wing according to the tailless scheme with two keels deflected to the sides. The aircraft will be twin-engine with air intakes located on the sides of the fuselage under the wing.

Tempest is planning to make extensive use of stealth technologies. According to the plans of the British military, a combat aircraft will be optionally manned – it will be able to fly under the control of a pilot or in a fully autonomous mode.