The new ECRS Mk2 radar will complement the Typhoons, improving air and ground detection and tracking and adding electronic warfare capability.

BAE Systems and Leonardo UK have been awarded a five-year, £870 million contract to upgrade the radar capabilities of the Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon multi-role fighter, which will install the Common European Radar System ( ECRS) Mk2.

A series of announcements made in 2022 saw an investment of £2.35bn in upgrades for the RAF’s Typhoon fleet. The newly announced deal is the first contract awarded from that previously disclosed investment and will see the completion of the development and integration of the ECRS Mk2.

The ECRS Mk2 is an Active Electronically Scanned Radar (AESA) capable of detecting and tracking multiple air and ground threats, as well as conducting Electronic Warfare (EW) operations, an important capability now being added to Tranche 3 Typhoons. of the RAF, according to a British government statement published on July 4.

The UK operates a mixed fleet of Tranche 1 (~30), Tranche 2 (67) and Tranche 3 (40) Typhoons, with the Tranche 1 aircraft scheduled to be retired from service in 2025.

According to the British Government statement, the contract, worth 870 million pounds, will create 600 jobs in the country’s aerospace sector, 300 of them at Leonardo’s facilities in Edinburgh, 100 electronic warfare specialists at the company in Luton and 120 engineers at BAE Systems in Lancashire.

A prototype of the radar has been undergoing specialized testing at the BAE Systems facility in Warton, Lancashire, for several months. The system is scheduled to undergo flight testing in 2024.

In addition to supplying the ECRS Mk2, the £2.35bn global investment in the Typhoon is intended to equip the platform with the capabilities to remain operational and relevant to 2040 and beyond.

UK awards ECRS radar contract for RAF Typhoons.
Leonardo is developing the ECRS Mk2 at its Edinburgh site, the home of UK combat airborne radar, and Luton, where the company conducts advanced electronic warfare research.

Eyes on Typhoon replacement

The investment in the Typhoon is also being made with an eye toward the future Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) project, in which the UK, Italy and Japan are pooling resources to develop a new multi-role aerial platform generation that will replace the old aircraft in service.

Both Leonardo UK and BAE Systems are leading members of the UK GCAP team, which aims to introduce the new sixth-generation fighter aircraft by 2035.

Official BAE Systems documentation states that both its participation and that of Leonardo UK in the Typhoon and GCAP programs “will create opportunities to develop technology and insights from the ECRS Mk2 into the advanced electronics suite of the GCAP platform, and vice versa, reducing risk and accelerating both programs.”

In July 2022 it emerged that the UK had already begun work on a technology demonstration aircraft for its landmark Tempest Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS) program, later renamed GCAP, with a first test flight scheduled for five years from now. Years. The GCAP aircraft will be known as the Tempest in British service.

Speaking at the Farnborough Airshow, a senior British Ministry of Defense official told Airforce Technology that a single supersonic demonstration aircraft would be built for the first flight in 2027 but declined to comment on which systems would initially be tested on the platform.

Richard Thomas