Radar array mounted above fuselage believed to be one option for surveillance contract

The Northrop Grumman-led Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution (TIPS) team competing for NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) requirement is believed to have offered options for a radical above-fuselage mounting for its radar array as well as a traditional under-fuselage radar configuration.

The above-fuselage option would provide the basis for the longer-term development of a replacement for NATO's fleet of Boeing E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft with a common family of Airbus A321 derivatives.

TIPS is offering an A321 with the Transatlantic Collaborative AGS Radar (TCAR) system. TCAR is a derivative of the European SOSTAR-X demonstrator and the US Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Programme. The latter is intended to support air-to-air and air-to-ground surveillance radars.

Flight International understands, however, that the TIPS above-fuselage option excludes the concept of the same aircraft simultaneously performing both missions.

The above fuselage option is understood to involve mounting twin sideways-looking radar arrays on four pylons above the rear fuselage of the A321. When viewed from the front of the aircraft, the array would have a diamond-shaped appearance.

The top of the array would be elevated to around the same height as the aircraft tail, and be angled slightly downwards towards the nose of the aircraft.

The A321 would cruise with a higher angle of attack to compensate for the increased weight, as will the Boeing 737 MESA-equipped airborne early warning and control aircraft that is now being developed for Australia and Turkey.

NATO evaluators completed their analysis of the TIPS and the rival Raytheon-led Co-operative Transatlantic AGS Solution proposals in mid-March. A senior level evaluation committee's meeting at the start of April is due to confirm the evaluation outcome.

A NATO AGS steering committee meeting is scheduled to review the recommendation on 22-23 April, with the Council of NATO Armaments Directors expected to confirm a source selection on 6-7 May. A final green light for the project is expected to be given by the NATO summit in Istanbul in June.


Source: Flight International