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UK RAF chief endorses US Air Force’s Digital Century Series effort

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) chief of staff believes both the US Air Force's (USAF's) Digital Century Series aircraft acquisition reform effort (DCS) and the RAF's Tempest sixth-generation fighter programme will bring out the best in both nations' aerospace sectors.

Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mike Wigston said on 11 October that the ambitions the DCS and Tempest share match as both efforts aim to improve how their respective air forces contract with their industrial bases. The prize is not just the technology but to find a new way to work with each nation's industrial sectors, ACM Wigston said.

"Where right from the outset the companies we are dealing with are incentivised to produce quickly and effectively the capabilities we need and at the same time, we are not being over prescriptive in terms of defining the capability we need," he said at an Air Force Association (AFA) event. "It is a whole new way of thinking about developing a new platform."

Due to enter service in the early 2030s, the Tempest is being developed "from the inside out", according to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), with the emphasis on the systems and sensors rather than the airframe that will accommodate them. Similarly, the DCS is a software-focused approach to acquisition that USAF acquisition boss Will Roper believes will enable the service to begin exploring what he calls the digital trinity of agile software development: agile software, open architecture (OA) system, and digital engineering; and what it can provide the USAF as it develops a futuristic and connected kill web.