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Tech Roadshow reveals how front line military jets may be supported in future

RAF Coningsby has played host to a tantalising glimpse of how Royal Air Force frontline aircraft could be supported by new technology in future, including exo-skeletons and robots.

The RAF and BAE Systems are exploring how fast jet support could be carried out smarter and faster using transformative technologies as well as greener, sustainable solutions and digital twinning.

Image shows young person wearing virtual reality headset with personnel.

The innovative solutions could also potentially reduce costs, increase the speed of aircraft maintenance, and improve the availability of front-line Typhoon fighter jets and, in the future, Tempest.

The programmes demonstrated at the Technology Roadshow to Defence personnel, academia and students from local schools and colleges included:

  • Exoskeletons – allowing aircrew and maintenance teams to safely handle greater loads.
  • Autonomous co-bots – free-moving robots working in tandem with the exoskeleton users assisting with training and maintenance tasks.
  • Augmented Reality headsets – allowing data to be visualised in new ways by offering aircraft maintainers hands-free access to technical publications and the capability to view a digital twin of the aircraft and its maintenance history.
  • Sustainable operations – delivering advanced synthetic training to pilots and aircrew whilst maximising use of renewable resources to help the RAF meet its target of net zero by 2040.

The pace by which technology advances is increasing all the time, and it is imperative that we explore with industry how best to harness this to both improve and enhance how we support the frontline.

Group Captain Penter
Director Astra

Astra is the RAF’s journey to the next generation RAF, which is harnessing the latest technology and empowering RAF personnel to think differently, challenge the status quo and innovate.

Image shows typhoon outside a hangar, with a large battery on wheels.
An Electric Ground Power Unit is a battery driven unit which powers the electrical onboard equipment of an aircraft whilst on the ground, and which will replace the traditional diesel powered units.

The trials at RAF Coningsby forms part of a wider strategy to drive efficiency through the introduction of technologies and collaboration to develop new partnerships across academia and small and medium enterprises, contributing to UK jobs across the supply chain.

Working with our partners to trial new technologies and solutions for future fast jet support helps us explore new ways of delivering leading-edge capabilities and value for money for our customers, whilst reducing environmental impact.

Nick Sharples
Head of Technology Delivery, Support and Training at BAE Systems Air

Image shows young people and personnel looking at 3 d model of typhoon on a screen.
The exo-skeleton allows aircrew and maintenance teams to safely handle greater loads.

Read more about Tempest