Modified Global Express to fly next year under $1.3bn ground surveillance programme

Raytheon is integrating the first sensor for the UK's Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system at its facility in El Segundo, California. It has also formally opened an ASTOR integration facility at its Broughton plant in north Wales.

ASTOR is a ground surveillance system comprising five aircraft equipped with a multimode sensor to provide synthetic-aperture radar and moving-target indicator data to support army operations. The £800 million ($1.3 billion) programme includes two types of ground station and 10 years of contractor-provided support and training.

Raytheon vice-president airborne integrated systems Dr Richard Anderson says the radar's active scanned array uses transmit/receive modules developed for another Raytheon programme. When the ASTOR contract was signed in 1999, the radar had a passive array, with a decision to change to an active system taken in 2001 (Flight International, 18-24 September 2001).

Anderson says: "A lot of technology had matured, which mitigated the risk" of the change. The move helped increase radar performance and provides greater growth opportunities, he says.

UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) ASTOR team leader Bill Crispin says there was concern that the change would cause delays, but Raytheon's schedule performance means DPA is confident the system will meet its in-service date.

Anderson says laboratory tests of the first radar will begin later this year. These will be followed by range tests before the radar is fitted to the aircraft in early 2004.

Anderson says Raytheon is also operating a systems integration laboratory at the L-3 site in Greenville, Texas, where the first Bombardier Global Express is being modified to ASTOR configuration. Greenville was part of Raytheon's Airborne Integration Systems business sold to L-3 last year, although Raytheon retained the ASTOR programme. An aerodynamic trials aircraft has flown 300h.

The first ASTOR is due to fly in mid-2004, while the second aircraft was delivered to Broughton in January this year. The modification programme is being transferred from Texas to Wales, where aircraft 2 to 5 will be modified.

ASTOR's in-service date (ISD) is September 2005. Crispin says the ISD is defined as two systems delivered, with training and support in place and the ability to support a deployed brigade. Crispin adds that initial operational clearances are expected in early 2005, with an operational evaluation planned for April that year, by which time he expects aircraft to be operating from their main base at RAF Waddington in the UK. The last aircraft is due for handover in 2007.

Crispin says ASTOR concepts have already been introduced into some army training.


Source: Flight International