July 09, 2012
Credit: Credit: Saab
Robert Wall London
With India, Japan and Switzerland having made their fighter decisions, the market is starting to turn to smaller campaigns as aircraft makers look to build backlogs to sustain production lines that may otherwise be nearing their end.
Competitions in South Korea and Brazil still attract industry players, but after those, the list of buyers thins out to countries with more limited budgets seeking to buy smaller numbers. That means manufacturers are starting to pay attention even to small countries like Botswana, and its eventual F-5 replacement needs.
That is not to say the incentive to promote high-end offerings is diminishing. Being able to deliver the most advanced systems possible remains an issue of more than bragging rights. That has Eurofighter officials eager to show that they are finally making progress in the increasingly important realm of active, electronically scanned array technology, where the European consortium has been trailing rivals.
The first Captor-E is due to be delivered in the second quarter of 2012, says Bob Mason, vice president for radar marketing and sales at Selex Galileo, one of the partners in the Euroradar consortium. The first Typhoon with the radar will fly next year. Most of the work so far has been financed by industry. A government-funded development contract is now expected in 2013. Industry still hopes to be able to field the system in 2015, although delays in the government's financing of the development program means the in-service date could slip into 2016.
The repositioner, designed to maintain IFF (identification friend or foe) polarity and increase the pilot's field of regard using the sensor, and upgraded back end with increased processing are now coming together, Mason says. The development is “low- risk,” he asserts. The basic radar will have air-to-air, air-to-ground and synthetic aperture radar modes.
The radar is intended for Tranche 3A fighters, but could be retrofit on Tranche 2 aircraft as well.