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.
Dassault and Thales announced delivery of the first production Rafale to carry the Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The companies noted that the aircraft, production number C137 for the French Air Force, is the first AESA-equipped European combat aircraft to enter service. The development was completed on time and budget, they added.
Thales is “five years ahead of anybody in Europe or the U.S.” in active arrays for airborne radars, according to Jean-Nöel Stock, Thales vice-president UAVs and intelligence, and a former program director for Dassault Rafale airborne systems.
Eurofighter has offered India codevelopment of an active antenna for the Typhoon’s Captor radar, as part of its bid to secure that country’s 126-unit order for a new combat aircraft. Eurofighter CEO Aloysius Rauen said that there had been “positive discussions” with India about a plan that would share the costs of converting the mechanically scanned Captor with the four original Eurofighter partner nations.
As the U.S. equips its fighter aircraft with active electronically scanned array (aesa) radars, Europe’s avionics industry is working hard to put similar technology into its three “Euro-canard” fighters–the Gripen, Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. This effort was highlighted last month by the first flight of a Typhoon with an AESA radar installed.
With one carrier-borne squadron already operational, deliveries to the French air force well under way, an impressive range of weapons already qualified and significant upgrades now funded, the Rafale program comes to the 2005 Paris Air Show in very good shape. Together with partners Snecma and Thales, Dassault has produced another warplane that is the pride of all France.
In the last two years, France’s radar and airborne electronics firm Thales has enjoyed steady progress in the development and integration of new radar and avionic modes for the Dassault Rafale fighter, the latest being the F3 configuration. The French government signed a production order for this configuration in December and it should be fully deployed by 2008.
French avionics and radar firm Thales has a major presence here in Singapore, along with a substantial number of employees. Thales representatives told Aviation International News that, among other major projects, its technical and service personnel are one of the major contractors for supporting the Airbus A380 aircraft that are to be delivered to Singapore Airlines (SIA) beginning next November.
“Even though you can still buy VHS videotape movies almost everyone buys DVDs instead,” Steve Martin, head of campaigns UK and naval radar systems for Selex, told a press conference here yesterday. “E-scan (the UK term for AESA) radars are the DVDs of the airborne systems world of today.”