British multinational defense, security and aerospace company BAE Systems and Italian defense group Leonardo have been awarded a contract to develop next generation radar for the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.
The Royal Air Force signed a £ 317 million (about USD 421 million) contract with Leonardo and BAE Systems to continue the development of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk 2) for the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4. The first AESA-equipped Typhoons will be delivered in 2022 for test and evaluation, while Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is planned to begin from 2025.
According to the UK MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support, “this maintains a highly-specialized, world-leading industry base that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of radar technology development, which is essential for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).”
This new radar is a special version of the Captor E AESA radar, or ECRS Mk 1, that is set to equip the Typhoons from Germany, Spain, and of the ECRS Mk 0 that will equip the aircraft of Kuwait and Qatar. The ECRS Mk 2 will also have an electronic warfare and electronic attack capacity that should be able to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defences using high-powered, wide-band jamming, while also being able to operate in contested electro-magnetic environments.
According to Leonardo’s press release, the new ECRS Mk2 radar features a revolutionary Multi-Function Array (MFA) and more Transmit-Receive Elements than any other AESA radar, “making Mk 2 the most capable fighter AESA radar in the world, maintaining the same power and precision of traditional radars but also enabling the simultaneous operation of its wide-band Electronic Warfare functionality”.
The company also said that they are tasked by the contract to develop the radar, while BAE is tasked with the integration of the sensor on the Typhoon, as the UK’s prime contractor for the aircraft. It is not known whether the Typhoon will retain the FGR4 designation or if they will assume a new one after the upgrade.
The ECRS Mk2 is a multi-functional array (MFA) that will give UK Typhoons a world-leading Electronic Warfare capability, in addition to traditional radar functions, including wide band Electronic Attack.
It will equip RAF pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defenses using high-powered jamming. They can engage targets whilst beyond the reach of threats – even when they’re looking in another direction – and operate inside the range of opposing air defenses, remaining fully protected throughout.
This game-changing capability will replace the mechanically-scanning radar that RAF Typhoons are currently equipped with and will ensure the UK retains the freedom to deliver air power wherever and whenever it is needed. It also enables Typhoon to link up with future data-driven weapons to combat rapidly evolving air defenses, ensuring that UK Typhoons can continue to dominate the battlespace for years to come.
“This capability will allow Typhoon to take its place in the future battlespace for decades to come, maturing key technologies for future combat air systems and ensuring interoperability,” said Managing Director Europe & International for BAE Systems’ Air sector Andrea Thompson. “As well as securing highly-skilled jobs, it will sustain the key skills needed to keep the UK at the forefront of the global Combat Air sector. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the Eurofighter nations and our industry partners to ensure Typhoon delivers the needs of today and answers the challenges of tomorrow.”
The new radar will be based on Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology and will provide game-changing capabilities based on a revolutionary MFA.
It has significantly more Transmit-Receive Elements than other radars, making Mk 2 the most capable fighter AESA radar in the world, maintaining the same power and precision of traditional radars but also enabling the simultaneous operation of its wide-band Electronic Warfare functionality.
At the same time, European aerospace giant Airbus announced that German and Spanish Eurofighter fighter jet will be equipped with the world’s most capable fighter jet radar.