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BAE Systems engineers are exploiting the digital environment to design, test and fly conceptual models for TEMPEST, a next-generation combat aircraft system for the UK.

Using ‘digital twin’ technologies (which the company also uses in its naval shipbuilding programmes), conceptual shapes for the aircraft have been virtually designed and tested more quickly than ever before. Following extensive digital testing of the concepts and aerodynamic features, 3D-printed scale models were put through their paces at the company’s wind tunnel facility in Warton, involving wind speeds of more than twice the speed of sound. Data from the trials will be used to refine and shape the final design of the UK’s next combat aircraft, which will be in service by 2035.

The High-Speed Wind Tunnel at Warton can consume 15t of air in 20sec when running at full power. It is a unique national asset, running at subsonic, transonic and supersonic speeds and has played a crucial role in the development of BAE Systems’ most successful military aircraft programmes.

A series of design concepts have been tested in the High-Speed Wind Tunnel at Warton. (Image: BAE Systems)

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