One of the key future enhancements for the Eurofighter combat aircraft has moved a step closer to being flown, with BAE Systems having made a trial installation with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

"Working in partnership with the Euroradar consortium, test aircraft IPA5 is undergoing a modification and upgrade programme in order to support the E-scan development programme," the company says. "The first flight of the modified aircraft is expected to take place at the end of the year."

Tranche 3A production examples of the Eurofighter are being manufactured with the wiring and structural modifications required to accommodate the AESA radar, which has previously been designated as the Captor-E.

A full integration and production contract has yet to be signed to introduce the capability, but a new agreement between Eurofighter partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK should ease such a process. Rather than require the financial involvement of all parties, such modifications being sought by at least one can now be pursued, with others to contribute funds later if they opt to introduce the same equipment.

The UK is keen to field the AESA enhancement with some of its future Eurofighters, while Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in introducing some Tranche 3 capabilities with part of its eventually 72-strong fleets of Typhoons. Industry is funding the development activity so far, with the hope of receiving a contract during 2014.

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Source: Flight Daily News