Eurofighter working on E-scan radar, support

 - June 17, 2009, 9:53 AM

Eurofighter hopes that the four partner nations will agree the technical specification for an active array radar for the Typhoon by year-end. To date, only a demonstration model of the E-scan Captor radar has flown on the combat jet.

Meanwhile, the export drive for the Typhoon is being hampered, even though Eurofighter insists that the jet’s mechanically scanned Captor radar offers equivalent performance. Last year, Eurofighter offered India codevelopment of the E-scan radar, and may suggest the same to Japan.

“The active radar is important for export, but not all the partners want it for themselves yet. So we have to demonstrate a retrofit plan to them for the future,” said Enzo Casolini, the new CEO of Eurofighter, at a media briefing here yesterday.

This may not be too difficult, AIN has learned. The Tranche 3 version of the Typhoon already makes provision in its wiring and cooling for the E-scan radar. And some components of the existing radar will be retained in the E-scan version.

Regarding the controversial and delayed contract for Tranche 3A, Casolini said that there were still some details to be resolved, but it should be signed by the end of the month. The production numbers are no longer an issue; a total of 112 will be bought, comprising 40 for Germany, 21 for Italy, 21 for Spain, and 40 for the UK. But the British total includes 24 of the 72 aircraft going to Saudi Arabia.

Previous Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen insisted that the partner nations could not reduce their own total orders that were agreed 10 years ago. Eurofighter also conceded that Tranche 3 be split into two parts, with a negotiation on the remaining 124 airplanes (Tranche 3B) postponed until 2011.

Tranche 3A Snag

The latest hold-up on Tranche 3A may be related to a British insistence that Eurofighter make a commitment to reduce the support costs of the aircraft by 50 percent in the next few years and by 70 percent from 2015. Casolini said that costs were being reduced, based on three-four years of service experience, but that each partner nation would likely make its own choice of support solutions for the long term. The UK recently signed a comprehensive support contract with BAE Systems that includes commitments to availability. A senior Eurofighter official told AIN that a major re-organization of the central support system was now likely, but that the nations also had to play their part, by streamlining their acquisition processes.

Notwithstanding the E-scan radar issue, Eurofighter is running active sales campaigns in Greece, India, Japan, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey. Casolini also mentioned Bulgaria, Croatia and Korea. In Japan last week, BAE Systems vice president Andy Latham said that the Typhoon would be an effective non-U.S. solution to that country’s new fighter requirement, with a significant package of work, possibly including licensed production and the integration of Japanese equipment.