Team Tempest, a new technology programme co-funded by the Ministry of Defence and UK industry to develop a sixth-generation fighter aircraft, has launched a series of technical challenges for innovators in aerospace, engineering, technology, and energy.

According to an announcement from the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), the challenges are mainly, but not exclusively, in the area of power and thermal management systems (PTMS) for the proposed Tempest.

They include:

  • Increasing onboard electrical power requirements (due to the introduction of more capable sensors, weapons, and increased aircraft electrification)
  • Helping the plane and its onboard systems to operate for extended periods in extreme environmental conditions
  • Platform integration constraints imposed by requirements such as the need to limit/reduce external inlets and exhausts.

As well as developing PTMS that are more capable and efficient, future research should aim to reduce the mass, volume, and whole life cost of these systems, while improving their reliability.

This is in common with the thrust of all military systems development, to produce technologies that are smarter, lighter to carry, and use less energy.

At this stage, the scheme is what DASA calls a “market exploration”, rather than a fully funded challenge. Industry and academia are invited to propose emerging/innovative technology research that may be included in future platform-level assessments.

Areas of interest include:

  • Efficient vehicle utility systems: Replacing conventional vehicle systems/components with more advanced technologies may yield a power, thermal, or mass benefit on a future plane.
  • Technologies that reduce the amount of heat generated, resulting in smaller, lighter and potentially simpler systems.
  • Energy storage technologies, such as structural batteries, super-capacitors, fuel cells, and phase-change devices.
  • Technologies that directly transduce energy into other forms.
  • Novel power distribution and heat transfer technologies.

DASA says that the scope of the market exploration is not limited to emerging technologies, but may also include innovative combinations of existing ones, including those that have been developed for other industries, such as automotive, marine, and space.

This is in common with developments in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence under the Industrial Strategy, where so-called ‘cross-cutting’ technologies are favoured over ones that are limited to a single vertical sector.

In this way, the economic and application potential of new systems can be maximised, and the associated costs brought down.

Concepts pitched to the programme should aim for a minimum of Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL 6) in line with planned future air system acquisitions.

Submissions that deal only in basic research without considering their future development potential are unlikely to be of interest, says DASA.

All submissions must be made by midday on Friday 7 August, 2020.