The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems and Leonardo £317 million to develop a next generation radar for Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon jets.
“Today we announce the investment in the latest in radar technology for our fighter jets and pioneering new defence systems to counter threats from drones,” Defence Minister Jeremy Quin announced today.
The RAF is also one step closer in bringing its ORCUS technology into force, which can jam radio signals from drones and has already been successfully deployed during drone sightings at airports.
The European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2) radar is a multi-functional array (MFA) that will give UK Typhoons Electronic Warfare capability, in addition to traditional radar functions, including wide band Electronic Attack.
It will equip RAF pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defences 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 defences, remaining fully protected throughout.
This capability will replace the mechanically-scanning radar that RAF Typhoons are currently equipped with and will ensure the UK retains the freedom to deliver air power wherever and whenever it is needed.
It also enables the Typhoons to link up with future data-driven weapons to combat rapidly evolving air defences, ensuring that UK Typhoons can continue to dominate the battlespace for years to come.
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 Mk2 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
The Royal Air Force’s SYNERGIA counter-drone research and development programme has reached a significant milestone with the ORCUS counter-drone capability achieving initial operating capability (IOC). IOC was achieved after ORCUS completed successful testing of a full range of integrated detect, track, ID, and defeat technologies.
Vital to protecting UK air bases from hostile drone activity, ORCUS will enable the RAF to evaluate a range of capabilities including advanced radar, electro-optic and radio frequency sensors, plus an electronic attack countermeasure. The device looks similar to a camera module placed on top of a tripod, allowing for unparalleled versatility in operations.
The technology is part of the RAF’s Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) research and development programme with Leonardo to establish the most effective way to detect, track, identify and defeat hostile drones.
Elements of Leonardo’s C-UAS equipment played a supporting role in RAF Force Protection in 2018 and 2019, following drone sightings at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, allowing airport operations to resume.
The current phase of the programme, which started in 2019, supports more than 50 highly skilled jobs with over 20 at Leonardo, with the primary integration work undertaken at its Basildon and Southampton sites and real-time testing taking place at several MOD locations within the UK.