Leonardo has delivered a prototype of its ECRS Mk2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to BAE Systems’ Warton site in Lancashire, ahead of the sensor’s integration with part of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.
Equipped with a multi-functional array, the new sensor will gain electronic warfare (EW) functionality, its developer notes.
“The ECRS Mk2 will equip RAF pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defences: a powerful combination of capabilities that will increase the Eurofighter Typhoon’s lethality and survivability, and the survivability of other friendly forces,” says Mark Stead, Leonardo UK’s senior vice-president radar and advanced targeting.
“The radar will now undergo integration work and ground-based testing in preparation for its first flight tests next year,” Leonardo says. BAE has previously detailed that this activity will be conducted using Tranche 3 aircraft BS116 (ZK355).
“Together with enhanced mission systems, advanced sensors, weapons and displays, we are delivering a sovereign capability which will keep RAF pilots safe and ensure the UK has the skills to continue to mature key technologies which support its future combat air ambitions,” says Richard Hamilton, Typhoon programme director, Europe at BAE Systems Air.
“The new radar is eagerly anticipated as it will further enhance the superb capabilities of Typhoon and keep it at the leading edge of combat air for years to come,” says Group Captain Matthew D’Aubyn, air capability Typhoon programme director at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The RAF will equip 40 Tranche 3-standard Typhoons with the ECRS Mk2 array by late this decade, via a programme worth over £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion).
Radar development work is being performed at Leonardo’s Edinburgh facility in Scotland, along with EW input from its Luton plant in Hertfordshire.
Engineers at its Nerviano site near Milan are also “contributing to the development”, with Italy eyeing a potential future acquisition of the ECRS Mk2. Rome is the only Eurofighter partner yet to fully commit to an AESA update for its fleet, with Germany and Spain both having ordered the ECRS Mk1 sensor, from Hensoldt and Indra respectively.
“As a step towards Italy’s full participation in the ECRS Mk2 programme, this collaboration will enable acquiring system design capabilities that will ensure that the Italian MoD has sovereign control over the new radar system at every stage of its operational life,” Leonardo company says.
Italy also is a partner in the UK-led Global Combat Air Programme, along with Japan, with the effort aiming to field a jointly-developed new manned fighter by 2035.