Raytheon Systems has won the delayed UK Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) competition, beating Lockheed Martin teamed with radar house Racal and a British Aerospace/Northrop Grumman team.

Five Bombardier Global Express business jets and eight ground stations will be delivered from 2005, two years later than originally specified. Raytheon says this is a UK Government-inspired delay, not its own.

Final signing of the £800 million ($1.28 billion) contract is expected by the end of this year. Although valued at £50 million higher than expected, Raytheon ASTOR director Richard Anderson says the £750 million figure was never official.

UK Undersecretary of State for Defence John Speller says the UK will propose its ASTOR selection to NATO to meet its air-to-ground surveillance requirement despite a Conference of National Armaments Directors' decision to launch two project definition studies.

The radar, developed from the Raytheon ASARS-2 used on Lockheed U-2s, will be developed with Marconi Avionics Radar and Countermeasures Systems division and includes moving target indicator (MTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes. Although unable to perform SAR and MTI simultaneously, interleaving allows both radar images to be continuously updated.

Raytheon's Peter Robbie says 40 systems could be exported, adding that the market will be studied more closely. Australia and Middle Eastern countries have expressed interest in air-to-ground surveillance programmes.

Anderson says that before the first Global Express is delivered to Raytheon in the USA in 2002 for modification, Bombardier's trials aircraft will be flown with ASTOR's underfuselage radar and upper fuselage satellite communications radomes to confirm windtunnel tests. The remaining four aircraft will be modified at Raytheon's UK factory.

Source: Flight International