The Eurofighter Typhoon IPA5 has arrived at Farnborough carrying precious cargo. Beneath the nose radome is the first flight- test example of the Euroradar Captor-E WFoR (wide field of regard) electronically-scanned radar. The sensor was installed only recently and, after a few shakedown flights, the aircraft was ferried south from BAE Systems’ airfield at Warton, Lancashire, for the show.
Yesterday Tthe Eurofighter and Euroradar consortia lifted the lid on the Captor-E for the first time yesterday, although the protective cover over the antenna’s array of transmit/receive modules (TRMs) remained firmly in place. The program has been funded by industry in advance of a four-nation development contract that is expected before the end of the year.
British Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the e-scan radar here at Farnborough on Monday. Following its appearance at Farnborough, IPA5 will return to the BAE Systems airfield at Warton, Lancashire, to begin flight trials with the Captor-E.
In May 2007, Eurofighter flew development aircraft DA5 with the Caesar radar demonstrator, but this featured a flat, non-moving antenna array.
By contrast, the large TRM array of Captor-E is mounted on a repositioner that allows it to see more than 90 degrees° off-center, greatly expanding tactical flexibility in the air defense domain. At the same time, the antenna is always tilted away from the cnter center position to keep the aircraft’s overall radar cross-section low. The advanced gallium arsenide TRMs aree sourced from either Euroradar-partner Selex ES facilities in Edinburgh, home of Euroradar partner Selex ES, and or from the UMS foundry in Ulm, Germany.
The radar revealed here is representative of the production-standard sensor known as Radar 1 Plus, which has been accepted by the four partner nations as the common baseline. It offers data link and some electronic attack capabilities, and simultaneous multi-mode operation, as well as significantly expanded air-to-air capability compared to the m-scan radar. Additional functions can be added by individual customers as they require.
IPA5 is one of the instrumented production aircraft built to Tranche 1 standards, and its choice as the platform for the first Captor-E highlights the ability of even the first production Typhoons to be upgraded with the sensor.
The next aircraft to get an e-scan radar, also produced using industry funds, is IPA8. This is a current-standard Tranche 3 aircraft now in final assembly at Manching in Germany. Tranche 3 aircraft Typhoons are built with the necessary provisions to accept the Captor-E, although they are currently supplied with the Captor-M mechanically-scanned sensor.
When Captor-E becomes available, it will be up to the individual customers as to whether they upgrade from the m-scan radar to the e-scan unit, and how many of the fleet will be so modified.
The expected four-nation contract launches the full development program for the Radar 1 Plus standard, with the accent on “productionizing” the current configuration to achieve a realistic cost-of-build, as the first radars have been virtually hand-built. Eurofighter expects to field the e-scan radar operationally in around two to three years.