Head of Future Combat Air Strategy


The role is based at MOD Main Building, London. Lately however, the team has been working at home in accordance with Government COVID-19 advice.



Thank you for your interest in the role of Head of Future Combat Air Strategy at the Ministry of Defence. Combat Air is critical to UK military capability and a key strength of the UK’s industrial base and international partnering.

The Combat Air Strategy launched by the PM at the Farnborough International Air Show in 2018 set out an ambitious vision for the UK’s Combat Air sector, driving a comprehensive approach across Government, our industrial base and international partnering, requiring major decisions on the way ahead.

Within the Future Combat Air Directorate, this new SCS1 post will be pivotal in furthering delivery of the Strategy, driving international stakeholder relationships and ensuring coherence across the detail of the complex portfolios involved. This work will optimise the UK position – building the greatest possible leverage in international partnering discussions; driving industrial commitment and transformation; and maximising the value derived from our investment.

We are looking for an individual with the experience and enthusiasm to join our highly committed team, providing inspirational leadership both inside the department and across our wide stakeholder community.

Job description

Combat Air capability is critical to UK military capability in support of the country’s National Security Objectives. It is also a key strength of the UK’s industrial base and an important aspect of international partnering and exports. The Combat Air Strategy launched by the Prime Minister at the Farnborough International Air Show in 2018 set out an ambitious vision for the UK’s Combat Air sector, driving a comprehensive approach across Government, our industrial base and international partnering, requiring major decisions on the way ahead. A whole of Government approach will be vital if we are to deliver this vision.

The 2018 Strategy reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the Combat Air sector and identified the resources and activities required to retain choice, providing a roadmap for the future, aligning national programmes and investment decisions. It includes the following key elements:
• Commitment to the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI), designed to retain our national advantage and freedom of action and sustain our technical ability to deliver next generation capability. Now in the delivery phase, this initiative will deliver over £2Bn of joint Government and Industry investment.
• The next generation Combat Air Acquisition Programme to define and deliver the capabilities required when Typhoon leaves service. The new Programme team delivered a Strategic Outline Case at the end of 2018 and are now working towards an Outline Business Case by the end of 2020 and a Full Business Case in 2025.
• Strategic balance of investment across the Combat Air portfolio, including Typhoon, F-35, Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative, the future Acquisition Programme and related sub-systems.
• Driving wider industrial and international policy and prosperity objectives, including skills, exports, technology cooperation and industrial and international partnering options.

Overall job purpose:
• Delivery of the Combat Air Strategy, preserving Sovereignty and choice for Defence, defining and enabling Government decisions on investment, programme and partnering choices.
• Delivering international partnering choices and maximising UK influence, providing a strong single lead for international engagement and cooperation in future combat air programmes.
• Securing cross-Government support for MOD combat air policy and programmes, leading MOD’s engagement across Whitehall on future combat air policy, industrial policy, international and investment choices.
• Supporting Defence investment choices for combat air which will define the optimum affordable mix of future combat air investment to meet Defence policy and operational requirements.
• Supporting the Director Future Combat Air to ensure unity of effort between Head Office, Air Command and Defence Equipment and Support.

Please see attached the candidate information pack for further details.


• Develop and drive the strategy for Combat Air international partnering; setting the conditions for partnering in major programmes and the strategy for wider international opportunities.
• Ensure coherence of the overarching international approach across the Combat Air enterprise and linking into wider defence strategic relationships.
• Manage relationships with international partners, both directly and through defence colleagues and other government departments.
• Lead on Combat Air global market opportunity and exports, working with the Department for International Trade and MOD exports
• Ensure coherence of international strategy and delivery between Combat Air and related programmes, particularly Weapons.
• Deliver clear policy and enablers (agreements, technical means) for technology sharing with international partners, working closely with Defence Equipment and Support colleagues.
• Engage and influence wider international stakeholders (media, parliaments, industry).

• Ensure the UK builds and retains the Combat Air industry and skills required for major Combat Air programmes and lead on the Combat Air skills index, providing early warning for future skills risks and planning interventions with industrial partners.
• Lead on the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy for Combat Air.
• Support efforts to preserve choice and competitive pressures in the UK Combat Air sector wherever possible and appropriate.
• Lead regional engagement (particularly Unions and levelling up agendas) and the relationship with Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), ensuring coherence of MOD/BEIS support to UK industrial base.
• Lead on prosperity: jobs, skills, productivity in the Combat Air sector and working with wider civil industry (e.g. tech, advance manufacturing, innovation)

Portfolio and stakeholder engagement
• Ensure coherence of decision-making across the Future Combat Air portfolio, working in close conjunction with Air Command and the wider enterprise.
• Build relationships and create the influence required with wider Whitehall.
• Provide a sustainable, long-term roadmap for coherence between current and future Combat Air programmes.
• Ensure coherence between approaches to Combat Air and related defence programmes including the Carrier programme.

Managing People
The post will be based in Head Office with an initial core team of around six. The post is being created to drive forward the delivery of the Combat Air Strategy and to support the Director to ensure unity of effort across the Future Combat Air enterprise, for which he (Director Future Combat Air) holds the amalgamated Future Combat Air Senior Responsible Official (SRO) function. This will mean securing the support, confidence and trust of staff across a number of diverse teams, and cohering complex activity across a wide portfolio.

The post holder will be accountable to the Senior Responsible Official, Director Future Combat Air for the effective delivery of strategy and coherence of the overall portfolio.

The post holder will be an influential decision-maker, using their experience and judgment to decide and give direction to civilian and military staff. Their objectivity, judgment and advice will be central to informing HM Government choice about future Combat Air, providing the evidence to secure the necessary resource attracting international partners, and defining the most effective delivery mechanisms.

They will be operating in a dynamic, problem-solving environment in which they will need to drive progress to ensure momentum is maintained. This will involve managing a very wide range of Government, military, international and industrial stakeholders with very strong equities.

The post holder requires extremely strong influencing skills to drive a strategy of this scale, complexity and visibility. They will need excellent programme management skills, establishing a clear vision, grip and pace over delivery of critical aspects of the enterprise.

They need credibility and gravitas to deal with Ministerial and senior level military and civilian interlocutors, and credibility with acquisition and industrial partners to drive outcomes. They need to establish immediate credibility with existing and potential international partners, maximising UK influence and providing a clear vision of the opportunities for partnering with the UK.

The post holder will need to build strong relationships with senior Air Command leaders and ensure operational perspectives are fully understood.

A strategic thinker, they should combine seeing the big picture with hard experience in balance of investment and capability management and have a proven track record of international relations and delivery across a diverse and technically complex portfolio. They will need excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and the intellectual confidence to succeed, inspiring others and to operate successfully with senior level customers and stakeholders.

They will need to have a management style which will build trust and respect amongst their colleagues at all levels throughout the MOD, using evidence, diplomacy and emotional intelligence to support their case. They will need exceptional resilience and robustness.

Professional competence
The post holder should ideally have excellent capability development and delivery skills, policy and strategy skills, extensive background in working internationally and across Whitehall with a National Security Council department.
Strong leadership, stakeholder management and communication skills are fundamental requirements for this role, and experience of portfolio and/or project management is desirable.
Knowledge of Combat Air capability, technology and industrial issues would be a strong advantage but is not essential.
Experience in capability management at the strategic level is desirable, along with an appreciation of programme and change management.

Please see attached the Candidate Information Pack for further details.

Apply today!