Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

Ericsson Microwave Systems is in exclusive talks with GEC-Thomson-Dasa Airborne Radar (GTDAR) over merging their respective active array radar projects into a single European programme.

A draft memorandum of understanding between the parties already exists and the Swedish company has ceased discussions with potential US partners while it completes talks with GTDAR.

Ericsson has been running its own project along similar lines to the airborne multi-role solid state active array radar (AMSAR) programme being run by GTDAR. The Swedish project, called the active electronically scanned array radar (AESA), has already made substantial progress in developing a demonstrator array.

As a result of its partnership talks, Ericsson has delayed plans for a flying AESA demonstrator in 1999. The company has been promoting the idea of combined electronic and mechanical scanning, which would allow a pilot to look "over his shoulder" to the aircraft's four o'clock position.

Ericsson had been proposing the radar for the Saab Gripen fighter from about 2010 - the same in-service date foreseen for the AMSAR.

Meanwhile, GTDAR is planning to begin flight testing an active array radar antenna demonstrator from 2002. Earlier this year, the company completed the 2.5-year first development phase of AMSAR - a potential future replacement radar for mid-life upgrades of Eurofighter EF2000s and Dassault Rafales.

This culminated in the construction and testing of a working phased-array antenna technology demonstrator consisting of 144 transmitter/receiver modules.

The flight test phase will involve the construction of a 1,000-module antenna.

The AMSAR itself is predicted to have an array of 1,500-2,000 such elements.

GTDAR partner Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) says ground tests on the first demonstrator have proved that the phased-array antenna offers higher reliability and performance than mechanically steered, travelling wave tube radars.

The antenna has a high-agility, electronically steered beam, allowing the overlay of functions such as search and track for air and ground targets, or terrain avoidance and air defence, which would allow low-level air-to-air engagements.

Dasa says the radar will also have a new energy management function, regulating power distribution among the modules to obtain the necessary target information while minimising the risk of detection.

Source: Flight International