Eurofighter Nations Inch Closer to New Radar Commitment
Development of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Eurofighter Typhoon is continuing, although the four European partner nations still have not collectively committed funds. However, at the Paris Air Show later this month they plan to sign a letter of intent (LoI) with Eurofighter that confirms their intention to eventually adopt and pay for the new technology.
In the meantime, the industry will continue to “pre-finance” development of the Captor-E AESA radar, scheduled for delivery from 2015. The UK Ministry of Defence is providing a $30 million grant for technology demonstration to Selex Galileo, which is also receiving a smaller amount from Italy.
If the Typhoon is to succeed in export competitions, notably in India and Japan, an AESA radar is deemed essential. But for the time being, the cash-strapped partner nations are perfectly happy with the performance of the fighter’s existing mechanically scanned Captor radar.
Nevertheless, Selex Galileo is bullish about the performance and reliability advantages of the Captor-E, especially its unique repositioner. This moving swashplate extends the radar’s field of regard by 50 percent, to plus or minus 100 degrees. The new design was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show last July.
The UK MoD funding will lead to the first flight of a Captor-E prototype in 2013. But it will feature only limited radar modes, and the array will consist of Gallium Arsenide (Ga) transmit-receive modules that were developed by British company Filtronic, now part of Teledyne. The ultimate array planned for Captor-E will use more advanced Gallium Nitride modules developed for the Euroradar consortium by EADS Cassidian.
Meanwhile, Selex Galileo is separately developing the Raven ES-05 AESA radar (previously named Vixen 1000E) for the Gripen NG (New Generation) fighter. It also has the repositioner and the Ga modules, the latter being “ITAR-free and low-cost,” according to the company.
Selex Galileo has already sold a smaller version of the Vixen AESA radar series to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, for its Cessna Citation 550 fleet.