Stewart Penney/LONDON

Raytheon has begun marketing an export version of the UK's Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) system. The unit is being offered internationally as the Ground Surveillance Airborne Radar System (GSARS).

The UK Government selected Raytheon earlier this year as the preferred bidder to supply the Royal Air Force with five ASTOR systems, using a Bombardier Global Express platform.

Raytheon Systems UK head of business development reconnaissance and surveillance Peter Robbie says part of GSARS's attraction is its affordability compared with systems such as the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS). ASTOR carries only three operators compared with 18 for Joint STARS.

Market analysis predicts opportunities for GSARS-like systems, particularly in regions such as the Middle East where Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could show interest. Robbie claims to be "pretty confident" that the issue of technology transfer will not be a problem, as most ASTOR software is off-the-shelf.

The number of aircraft needed per national requirement is unclear, but Robbie says that a minimum of five will be necessary if a country needs to maintain a 24h single orbit surveillance. If a more general requirement exists, numbers can be reduced.

Technically, the aircraft will be based on ASTOR, with its Raytheon-developed synthetic aperture radar and moving target indicator, although variations will be built in to accommodate national needs. Although it is possible to use other platforms, Raytheon will "strongly recommend" the Global Express on cost grounds.

Robbie expects the £850 million ($1.4 billion) contract to be signed by mid-December. Raytheon continues to talk to UK radar house Racal, which the Ministry of Defence indicated should be given a role on ASTOR following the failure of the rival Lockheed Martin/Racal bid.

Source: Flight International