On display in the Thales pavilion, the AESA (active electronically scanned array) version of the RBE2 radar will soon become the first of its kind to go operational in Europe. The first French air force Rafale squadron to convert to the new fighter will receive four AESA-equipped aircraft in October. The first production radar was delivered last October and is completing operational testing at Mont de Marsan airbase.
Bruno Carrara, director of the Rafale program for Thales (Hall Concorde 51), told AIN that the Rafale’s air-to-air detection range is proving to be 50 percent greater than before, and the AESA also brings significant benefits to search-and-rescue mapping and in power management. Existing Rafales are equipped with mechanically-scanned RBE2s, which can easily be replaced by the new version. However, the French have only ordered 60 AESA radars to date, these to equip the Tranche 4 aircraft that Dassault is now delivering.