Professor Keith Hayward, the Royal Aeronautical Society's Head of Research offers his commentary on a recent Royal Aeronautical Society conference on the future of the UK's defence aerospace sector. [caption id="attachment_6981" align="alignnone" width="291" caption="Can a UCAV technology demostrator like Taranis help fill the gap? (BAE Systems)"][/caption] Yes maybe, yes but, were the tentative conclusions of a Royal Aeronautical Society workshop, held on the 26 June, on trends and prospects for the UK military aerospace industry. There is a growing concern that elements of the UK political and official community are, in the words of one participant, “sleep walking towards a cliff edge”. While there is a short to medium term future with production work either confirmed (Typhoon) or promised (F-35) in the fast jet sector, and a similar position for helicopters, the longer term perspective for core high level design and development competences is less promising. For some, such as Rolls-Royce and AgustaWestland, increasing demand for civil products will maintain both core skills and fill factories. But without something on which to focus systems integration and high-level avionics development work, the UK military aerospace industry faces a period of ‘hollowing out’. A successful F-35 will help maintain jobs (albeit high quality manufacturing jobs) across a broad swathe of UK industry, but it does not afford the access to high level or 'noble' work that was generated by the Typhoon. The gap might be filled to some extent by work on an advanced unmanned combat aircraft and other forms of technology demonstration, without defined requirements, there will be little to satisfy wider industry needs.