For the Eurofighter Typhoon, the effort to field an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has been a long slog somewhat representative of the complex issues underpinning the management of the multinational program. Military customers want the equipment, but governments have been unable to agree on development funding.
Several years ago, industry set off to self-fund development of the AESA (or e-scan system). But in the intervening time, there has been little indication that any progress is being made.
This would seem to be a competitive disadvantage, because rivals have made more progress. For instance, the F/A-18E/F has such a system already operational, the Saab Gripen will fly a version this year, and the Rafale is due to field its AESA next year.
Now EADS’s Cassidian unit says there is in fact progress to report on the Typhoon front. The company says it has "demonstrated in a simulation study, the operational advantages of the Eurofighter’s future e-scan radar and has introduced the first pilots to the particular features of this technology."
Elmar Compans, head of the Sensors & Electronic Warfare unit at Cassidian, says: "Our e-scan software has demonstrated that target detection is much better and target tracking more stable with the new technology, which means that both mission success and safety of pilots can be enhanced.”
Although much of the AESA work for Typhoon has been industry-funded, this simulation exercise has taken advantage of backing from the German military.
Eurofighter officials insist they can field a radar in 2015 and hold out hope that government funding for full-scale development of such a system will still emerge.