Home Air UK awards £317m for AESA radar development for Typhoon fleet

UK awards £317m for AESA radar development for Typhoon fleet

Eurofighter Typhoon AESA
Illustration of an AESA radar on a Typhoon fighter. Photo: UK MoD

The UK defense ministry has awarded £317 million in funding (approx. $420m) for the development of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar for the country’s Eurofighter Typhoons.

The European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2) will be a multi-functional array (MFA) that will give UK Typhoons electronic warfare capability, in addition to traditional radar functions, including wide band electronic attack.

It is planned to equip the RAF Typhoon aircraft from the mid-2020s.

The AESA radar will provide Royal Air Force pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defenses using high-powered jamming. Since the AESA radar is mounted on a swashplate, it provides pilots with a wider field of regard allowing them to engage targets at greater angles.

This new radar will replace the mechanically-scanning radar that RAF Typhoons are currently equipped with. What is more, it will enable the Typhoons to link up with future data-driven weapons to combat rapidly evolving air defenses.

“It is a product of persistent hard work from the Typhoon Enterprise in the UK, working with our colleagues in the European Partner Nations, to cement the agreements to progress the development of the ECRS Mk2 design through to a prototype radar,” Air Vice Marshall Keith Bethell, Director Combat Air at DE&S, said.

“This project has strong ties to the Combat Air Strategy and promises to deliver a formidable leading-edge capability, whether it be for the continued evolution of Typhoon as a world-class combat air platform or in years to come as part of Future Combat Aircraft System.”

BAE Systems, the UK’s prime contractor for the Typhoon, will integrate the new sensor which will be developed by Leonardo.

Both companies are currently working as part of a four-nation development program alongside Eurofighter consortium partners in Germany, Spain and Italy on a baseline version of the AESA radar. The ECRS Mk2 is a completely new approach designed to meet the operational needs of the RAF and future export customers.

The UK announcement comes just months after Germany and Spain committed to the development of their own version of the AESA radar. That project will be led by German sensor specialist Hensoldt, and foresees the delivery and integration of 110 Captor-E radars for Germany and an initial batch of 5 radars for Spain by 2023.