AERALIS CEO paints a compelling picture for the DSC of a modularised future

26 January 2024

AERALIS CEO and founder, Tristan Crawford, gave evidence to the Defence Select Committee on Wednesday as part of the committee’s inquiry into future aviation capabilities.

Tristan’s evidence lucidly summarised the need-states that exist, not only with the inability of current single-point training aircraft to effectively support and enable full exploitation of a 6th Generation primary platform, but the attendant challenges of affording a complex, multi-role fleet.

However, as you’ll see from the video below, Tristan also painted a compelling opportunity for the UK – if the MoD can support a more holistic, higher value Air System approach:

  • There is a gap in the MoD’s ability to invest prosperity funding into sovereign opportunities. This is critical in attracting third party funding and multiplies the value of taxpayer money.
  • Defence is missing strong commercial principles, which compromise flexibility and value for money.
  • There is a proven model for a modularised fleet: the Airbus A320. Single architecture with multiple variants, sold massively around the world. It has greatly reduced operational complexity and costs to the end user.
  • There are five key pillars to solving the affordability problem:
    • Aggregate the need: don’t just look at AJT, look at neighbouring needs as well.
    • Take existing technology and modularise it: existing technology is very good and already proven.
    • Let industry run the aircraft fleet for the MoD – achieving a much lower cost per hour.
    • Invite and promote private investment: there is a huge near-term market but it needs the spark of prosperity funding from the MoD.                 
    • Sovereignty: the National Value Framework is pivotal in balancing prosperity, capability, international influence and budget. Development and sustainment of a sovereign Air System will deliver prosperity and benefit across the UK.
  • The existing market for fast jet trainers is significant but constrained by their single-point designs. By taking an Air System approach, you can increase the market five-fold – not only Fast Jet Training, but similar roles in Surrogacy, Red Air and Operational Support (ISR, Tactical Tanking). All operate in a similar subsonic performance space with similar sized platforms.
  • There has to be another way of procuring aircraft. Existing aircraft on the market today were not designed with 6th Generation in mind. The mindset among colleagues in the US, Japan and Europe is shifting towards an Air System approach.
  • With an Air System, the future customer will have the ability to ‘tune’ their training system depending on how their combat air system develops, including crewed and uncrewed capabilities. “If your training system isn’t adaptable, you’ve got a problem.”
  • By letting industry manage a flexible modularised fleet, the customer can pull on whatever access they want, to deliver the capability they need – without carrying the capital risk.
  • The customer – and taxpayers – should see a 60% reduction in costs.

You can watch and download the full hearing on the Parliament Committees events site: