Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta Systems and Embraer signed a strategic cooperation agreement to jointly develop an airborne early warning (AEW) variant of the Praetor 600 business jet on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show. The P600 AEW is targeting a new segment of the airborne early warning market, namely one for air forces with lower defense budgets that want to be able to operate this type of capability, but is typically only operated by a limited number of nations.
Under the agreement, Embraer is charged with the aircraft, ground support, and communications provision, while Elta will deliver the S-band active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, signals intelligence system, and other electronics and associated integration. Elta is providing its 4th generation AESA radar technology that it offers for other applications, which includes the electronic radar modules being compressed into a tile formation that reduces power consumption.
One of the main differences between this version of the radar and other ones made for this application by IAI is that this one has 240-degree coverage and the high-end ones have full 360 degrees. Three operator stations will be found on board, and a prototype will not be built until a customer commits to an acquisition—although IAI has already been flying the system aboard its Boeing 737 testbed.
The companies will use their respective market presence to pitch to potential customers, selecting which one takes the lead as prime depending on the operator.
IAI provides a range of AEW aircraft based on different platforms, including the G550-derived Conformal AEW that is operated by Italy, Israel, and Singapore, and considers this a new type of capability within that family.
“A relatively small group of nations can afford the other available systems,” Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager for the airborne systems and radars division at Elta, told AIN. “Many want to join the club, but can’t afford these capabilities.”
The companies are therefore targeting a balance in terms of capability and price, offering a scaled version of the radar and mission system on a more affordable platform. “We’ve leveraged the technology to come up with this new capability,” Izhakian added.
The Praetor 600 in this configuration can operate at altitudes of 40,000 feet, which Izhakian noted is prime for this type of application so that it is operated above other types of military aircraft.