Leonardo’s Vixen 500E AESA radar has been procured by the Romanian National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS) for its new trainer technology demonstrator programme IAR-99 TD.
The project is based on a Romanian Air Force IAR-99 Soim (prototype no. 7003) which will be modified by INCAS together with aircraft manufacturer Avioane Craiova, the company said in a statement Monday.
Leonardo has worked with INCAS previously, providing its Seaspray 5000E AESA surveillance radar for INCAS’s special mission BN-2 Islander aircraft. This is currently being used for scientific and environmental monitoring missions. It is hoped that the sale of the Vixen 500E could lead in future to Romania’s fleet of IAR-99s being retrofitted with the new radar as part of a wider upgrade program.
Dr. Catalin Nae, General Manager of INCAS, said: “It is a dedicated development program towards a new generation trainer we develop at INCAS, as a follow-up on the current IAR-99 Soim in service for the Romanian MoD. IAR-99 TD is a technological demonstrator to fully test and further develop new technologies for advanced trainer, with enhanced sensing and combat capabilities. The Vixen 500E radar system will bring the capability that we consider critical with respect to the operational environment for our future trainer.”
Vixen 500E is one of Leonardo’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems, meaning that instead of physically pointing the radar’s antenna at its target, a matrix of miniature radar modules are used to steer the beam electronically. The prototype aircraft with the radar on-board is expected to be ready for testing by the end of 2017.
The contract with INCAS follows Leonardo’s recent provision of the same Vixen 500E radar to the US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) in Patuxent River, Maryland, where students will use the radar while training on-board the school’s C-26 aircraft. Previously, Leonardo has also sold the Vixen 500E to the United States for the Department of Homeland Security.