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The United States is proceeding along multiple simultaneous pathways under the umbrella of its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) effort; Italy and Sweden have announced partnerships with the UK as the latter pushes towards major spending decisions on the Team Tempest initiative; and Spain has joined the initially Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. Each of the three efforts is aiming to eventually field a family of systems which will work together to deliver future air power effects. However, exactly what form this family of systems will take remains unclear in each case. 

Debates remain active in Washington DC about whether the NGAD effort should center around an ambitious new fighter – often dubbed Penetrating Counter Air (PCA) – or existing manned designs and a range of UCAVs. Will Roper, the acquisition executive for the US Air Force has even suggested building a new fighter design every five years to break current acquisition paradigms, but his ‘Century Series’ concept remains controversial. Meanwhile the B-21 Raider long range stealth bomber/multi-mission aircraft development continues at pace but with little public information. Team Tempest is the centerpiece of the UK’s future Combat Air Strategy, but whether it will produce a new fighter or a range of smaller munitions and platforms to replace the effects currently delivered by the Typhoon fleet is still being debated. The ongoing role for Italy and Sweden is also subject to uncertainty and change, since both have very different future force designs and capability requirements. There is slightly more clarity within the Franco-German-Spanish FCAS programme since Dassault has a dominant industrial position and is unambiguously aiming to develop a new fighter. However, here too the exact requirements and how the future family of systems will be developed to fit around a future fighter to replace Rafale and Eurofighter are still unclear. 

This conference will draw on presentations and debates between experts, capability planners and stakeholders from all the countries in question to try and shed light on the different emerging visions of future combat air within the NATO alliance. Since the threat picture is also constantly evolving as Russia and China seek to erode the airpower edge of the West, the latest trends from outside NATO will also be examined in a separate panel. 2020 will be a year of major decisions shaping the next thirty years of NATO air capabilities, making it all the more vital to improve our common understanding of the potential for cooperation and divergence inside the Alliance and out.  

The conference will be held at RUSI’s main building, 61 Whitehall on 19th March 2020

RUSI Points of contact: 


Speakers include:

  • Richard Berthon - Director of Strategic Programmes, Ministry of Defence
  • General Jean-Pascal Breton - Chargé de Projet SCAF, French Air Force
  • Air Commodore Dan Storr - Combat Air Acquisition team, Royal Air Force
  • Gen B.A. Enrico Pederzolli - Defence Attaché, Italian Embassy, London
  • Col. Rupert Ficker-Reissing - ACOS Plans, Programs and Development, Luftwaffe
  • Mark Gunzinger - Director for Government Programs, Mitchell Institute
  • Captain (ret) Brad Martin - RAND Corporation
  • Dr Julia Sutcliffe - Director, Air Labs and Chief Technologist, BAE Systems
  • Ulrike E Franke - European Council on Foreign Relations
  • Bruno Fichefeux - Head of FCAS, Airbus Defence & Space
  • Andreas Rupprecht - Author of Modern Chinese Warplanes
  • Justin Bronk - Airpower Research Fellow, RUSI
  • Saab Representative (TBC)


Standard: £850 + VAT

Corporate Member: £600 + VAT

Government/Military: £500 + VAT

Academic: £400 + VAT

Student: £75 + VAT


Sponsorship Opportunities

19 March 2020, 9:00 to 18:00

RUSI, 61 Whitehall

There is space for up to three corporate sponsors for the RUSI Combat Air Conference 2020. In addition, there is an opportunity for one drinks reception sponsor.


  • Sponsors’ logos will be included on the conference programme and can display a banner in the main conference hall or in the entrance way. 
  • Sponsors receive three complementary places at the conference.
  • Drinks reception sponsor will be acknowledged on the programme and have an option for making a short speech during the reception.


Conference Sponsor:                      £8,000 + VAT

Drinks Reception Sponsor:           £5,000 + VAT

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