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.
A prototype of the very latest type of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar will be flying on a Eurofighter Typhoon in 2013, so that customers can take delivery in 2015. The Captor-E will feature an innovative “re-positioner” with two rotating joints so that the array can cover a wide field of regard (WFoR).
The strategic importance of active array airborne radar technology in Europe cannot be understated, according to EADS Defence Electronics (Hall 2 Stand A151). The company has invested heavily in advanced transmit/receive (T/R) modules that have a variety of applications. The advantages of using T/R modules for airborne fire control, as well as airborne and ground-based surveillance are well recognized.
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.
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.