Royal Air Force Awards £317 Million Contract to Leonardo and BAE Systems for AESA Radars

BAE Systems and Leonardo have been awarded a £317 Million contract to develop the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) based radar for the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons. The European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2) will be a standard product ready to be integrated on to RAF Typhoons.

The £317m contract will help sustain hundreds of jobs and develop technologies for the UK’s Future Combat Air System. More than 600 highly skilled jobs across the country, including more than 300 at Leonardo's site in Edinburgh, over 100 electronic warfare specialists at the company’s site in Luton, and 120 engineers at BAE Systems' site in Lancashire will be needed to carry out this contract. The ECRS Mk2 is a multi-functional array (MFA) that will give UK Typhoons a world-leading Electronic Warfare capability, in addition to traditional radar functions, including wideband Electronic Attack.

It will equip RAF pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defenses using high-powered jamming. They can engage targets whilst beyond the reach of threats - even when they’re looking in another direction - and operate inside the range of opposing air defenses, remaining fully protected throughout. This game-changing capability will replace the mechanically-scanning radar that RAF Typhoons are currently equipped with and will ensure the UK retains the freedom to deliver airpower wherever and whenever it is needed. It also enables Typhoon to link up with future data-driven weapons to combat rapidly evolving air defenses, ensuring that UK Typhoons can continue to dominate the battlespace for years to come.

Andrea Thompson, Managing Director Europe & International for BAE Systems’ Air sector feels that this capability will allow the Typhoon to take its place in the future battlespace for decades to come, maturing key technologies for future combat air systems and ensuring interoperability.

Mark Hamilton, Senior Vice President Electronic Warfare of Leonardo feels that inventing, developing and building advanced technology in the UK will allow them to understand and meet the specific requirements of their Armed Forces and to secure export orders all around the world, boosting the whole UK economy. The new radar will be based on Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology and will provide game-changing capabilities based on a revolutionary MFA.

It has significantly more transmit-receive Elements than other radars, making Mk 2 the most capable fighter AESA radar in the world, maintaining the same power and precision of traditional radars but also enabling the simultaneous operation of its wide-band Electronic Warfare functionality.

BAE Systems, the UK’s prime contractor for the Typhoon, will integrate the new sensor which will be developed by Leonardo, the UK’s defense electronics champion. Both companies are currently working as part of a four-nation development program alongside Eurofighter consortium partners in Germany, Spain and Italy on a baseline version of the AESA radar. The ECRS Mk2 is a completely new approach designed to meet the operational needs of the RAF and future export customers.

The UK's commitment follows a similar commitment from Germany and Spain to deliver their own national requirements for an AESA radar.