The four partner nations in the Eurofighter Typhoon program have finally signed industrial contracts to produce an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the combat jet. A ceremony was held Wednesday at the Edinburgh, UK facility of Selex-ES, one of the key companies that is developing the Captor E-Scan system. The Typhoon is the last of the fourth-generation fighters to be re-equipped with an AESA, and program officials are hoping that the move will boost the type’s flagging export prospects. Together with the industrial partners in the Euroradar consortium, Eurofighter has been pre-funding Captor E-Scan development since 2008.
Eurofighter chief executive officer Alberto Gutierrez said that the contract (which is worth $1.25 billion) represents a massive boost for the project, and is “something that Europe should be immensely proud of.” AVM Graham Farnell, for the four-nation Eurofighter management agency NETMA, said that “the Typhoon lies at the heart of NATO airpower and will continue to do so for many decades to come. This new capability will ensure that the fighter remains a vital component in the mix.”
The new radar can be back-fitted to all Tranche 2 and Trache 3 versions.
Unlike other AESAs which are all "fixed-plate," the Captor E-Scan antenna can tilt, or "reposition," to provide a wide field of regard of 200 degrees. Together with the large antenna size and power available to the sensor, this confers greater capability than rival systems, according to Eurofighter. These include “earlier target detection and greater utility across the EW spectrum”—meaning electronic attack, which has already been the subject of some development work that was funded exclusively by the UK.