- Dec 4, 2017
You are like this forum's version of RT.
Strange that lack of AESA radar on european fleet.Beyond Centurion
(Source: Eurofighter GmbH; issued Feb. 03, 2020)
Beyond the Typhoon Centurion configuration seen here, which is still far from being implemented, Eurofighter is already looking at follow-on improvements, but there is still no AESA radar on the horizon for the four partner countries. (RAF photo)
Luke Gili-Ross has lived and breathed Project Centurion. When the project started, he was serving on 41 Squadron, the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon Test and Evaluation unit, but following retirement Luke joined BAE Systems as the Typhoon Project Pilot. Here Luke talks us through the next steps on the journey.
From the standard that was delivered in January 2019, there are already a significant number of refinements on top of what the squadrons are currently operating in theatre. These incremental updates affect Paveway IV, Meteor, AMRAAM and Brimstone. It’s a rapid change programme that’s being delivered at an unprecedented rate. Other updates are continually being made to the Human Machine Interface (HMI).
For pilots the really big step change was when they moved from the P1E standard to the P2E standard; but the change from P2E to the P3E feels smaller because we have already implemented significant changes to the HMI. These changes are being further developed and refined, in order to allow us to springboard to the next stage.
A new standard of targeting pod — Litening V — is being integrated onto the aircraft which follows on from the current Litening III. It’s being introduced to counter the increased threats that require operating at a greater standoff range to the target area and which require the best possible sensors. Litening V is also useful for night operations when its technological superiority can be best leveraged. The better the sensors, the better the image quality and the easier it is for the pilot to operate effectively in the darkness.
The other evolutionary benefit of the new pod is processing power. As well as providing enhanced tracking of multiple moving ground targets, it can also be used for tracking multiple air tracks. This aspect is becoming more and more relevant as we move into a more congested, contested and low observable battlespace.
Existing Weapon Updates:
Several weapons that have been on the aircraft for some time, like ASRAAM, are being updated to counter the proliferation of threats and the advancement of countermeasures available. This will make a real difference to the air forces.
Over the next three to five years there will be big changes to all sensors. This will include E Scan, and PIRATE — the Passive Infrared and Tracking Equipment. The latter is a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and infrared search and track (IRST) device, which allows pilots to work day or night. It’s able to track multiple targets passively, which is a key requirement for the future environment.
As sensors improve then so too does the information coming into the cockpit. The operational task for pilots, especially at night in an ambiguous environment, is a real challenge, and it’s important that we make the aircraft as easy to operate as possible. We are constantly looking at how we can alleviate some of the pressures faced by pilots. For example, we can offload some of the tasks and improve the tracking performance through Litening V because the pilot would no longer have to manually manipulate the pod.
Striker II Helmet:
One of the key enablers to leveraging the new sensor and weapons capabilities is the Striker II helmet. RAF pilots are currently working with BAE Systems on its development. It fuses the head down colour imagery of the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and night camera capability, allowing the pilot to look out of the cockpit rather than down at screens — thus building their situational awareness.
Capability and Training:
There has been significant improvement over the last two years in the HMI. At the same time new design standards, allowing the aircraft operation to be more intuitive, have been introduced. Standardising everything in the cockpit should allow pilots to sit in the cockpit and operate it with relative ease and, as new capabilities are introduced, they will quickly appear familiar to the pilots.
Robustness and Availability:
Forces need an aircraft that’s always available and always works, day in, day out. They don’t just want that level of availability in operations, they want it in front line training every day. Earlier this year the Eurofighter consortium supported the German Government and Airbus during the evaluation phase of Switzerland’s ongoing assessment for a new combat aircraft.
We took two of the latest standard aircraft to Switzerland and they were flown two or three times, day and night, for two weeks. We used no spares and the aircraft were available on time for every single sortie. Maintaining this level of availability, while continuing on the development journey, is crucial.
Kuwait Prepares for Typhoon EIS in 2020
Kuwait Prepares for Typhoon EIS in 2020
by Jon Lake
- February 4, 2020, 8:00 PM
The first seven Kuwaiti Typhoon pilots graduated from their AMI (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, Italian Air Force) flying training courses on July 5 in a graduation ceremony held at Lecce/Galatina, home to the M346 equipped International Flying School/61° Stormo.
Final assembly of the first batch of Eurofighter Typhoons for Kuwait was formally launched in a ceremony at Turin-Caselle on October 15. The Italian final assembly line was bedecked with Kuwaiti and Italian flags for the closed event, with a backdrop provided by the fuselage of the first Kuwaiti two-seater (KT001) in an assembly jig, waiting for its tailfin to be fitted.
Leonardo said that the final assembly of the first five aircraft is now underway at the company’s Aircraft Division plant at Turin, while major components of further Kuwaiti aircraft are in production across the four partner nations. This will lead to aircraft deliveries from 2020 to 2023 and the Typhoon will enter Kuwait Air Force service in September 2020.
The Kuwait Air Force is undertaking a major modernization and expansion of its fighter arm, replacing 39 F/A-18C/Ds with 28 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 28 Typhoons, meaning that induction of the new aircraft will have to be accompanied by an influx of new personnel, including both pilots and groundcrew, while the "Heritage Hornet" pilots and groundcrew will also need to undergo some retraining.
On October 14 it was announced that the first batch of Kuwaiti aircraft maintenance technicians for the Typhoon had started their academic training at the Accademia Aeronautica (the Italian air force academy) at Caserta near Naples.
The first seven Kuwaiti Typhoon pilots graduated from their AMI (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, Italian air force) flying training courses on July 5. The experienced Kuwaiti pilots had undertaken some training with the AMI's Eurofighter F-2000 operational conversion unit (the 4° Stormo’s 20° Gruppo) at Grosseto, but the graduation ceremony was held at Lecce/Galatina, home to the M346-equipped International Flying School/61° Stormo. The ceremony was attended by the Commander of the Kuwait Air Force, air vice-marshal Adnan Al-Fadhli, who revealed that the AMI training had included specific instruction in commanding Eurofighter Typhoon squadrons and had encompassed maneuvers in Oman and Egypt. These officers will now instruct other Kuwaiti pilots.
Kuwaiti interest in the Eurofighter Typhoon emerged in 2012 when a pair of Italian air force Eurofighter Typhoons from the 4° Stormo was deployed to Kuwait for evaluation. Despite very high ambient temperatures (53° C), and high winds (40 mph), the Typhoon reportedly impressed, and in April 2016 Kuwait signed an $8.7 billion contract with Finmeccanica (now Leonardo) for the supply of 28 aircraft (including six two-seat trainers), with an associated training, logistics, and operational support package, including equipment and a suite of training devices to allow the establishment of an operational conversion unit in Kuwait. The contract also included the construction of infrastructure at the Al-Salem Air Base and a three-year package of initial support services (with an option for a further five years). Kuwait thereby became the eighth customer for the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Kuwait’s 28 aircraft will be the most advanced examples of the Eurofighter Typhoon produced so far, and the first delivered to the new P3Eb standard. P3Eb provides a package of capabilities that build upon the Typhoon’s previous enhancement programs, using the functional content of P3Ea as what Leonardo calls “a starting technical development baseline.”
P3Eb will be delivered in two phases. The KAF entry into service (EIS) standard includes the new E-scan radar (with an EIS capability), AIM-120 AMRAAM (up to C7), and a Meteor initial training capability, ballistic bombs (Mk 82, 83, and 84), the Sniper laser designator pod with downlink, the P5 ACMI pod (providing real-time training for air-to-air gunnery, IRIS-T, and AMRAAM C7), and VOR navigation capability.
Later, the KAF Enhanced standard will be introduced. This will introduce an upgraded E-scan radar, Meteor full capability, GBU-31 JDAM precision-guided bombs, Enhanced Sniper (full-range capability), and a P5 ACMI Pod Enhancement. The radar used by Kuwaiti Typhoons is the Captor-E to Radar One Plus standard. This also forms the basis of the four-nation AESA radar development program, with the same hardware and the same performance. The Captor-E radar provides significantly more power than most competing systems. The advanced antenna repositioner gives the Typhoon radar a field of regard of 200 degrees.
Kuwait’s Typhoons will be the first to use the Lockheed Martin Sniper advanced targeting pod, following the award of a direct commercial sale contract for 18 Sniper advanced targeting pods, together with integration and logistics support on Sept. 28, 2016. The Sniper pod has recently been upgraded to include two-color laser spot tracking, short-wave infrared, and advanced non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance modes.
The Kuwaiti aircraft will be capable of carrying the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile, providing a long-range stand-off capability that the U.S. will not provide with the Super Hornet due to missile technology control regime restrictions. Kuwait’s Typhoons are also due to be equipped to carry DRS-Cubic ACMI P5 combat training pods and will be fitted with an enhanced navigation aid with VOR.
A number of test aircraft have been used to clear the Kuwaiti P3Eb standard, with instrumented series production aircraft (ISPA4 ) and instrumented production aircraft flying with Mk 82 500-pound bombs, Mk 83 1,000-pound bombs, and Mk 84 2,000-pound bombs. On December 23, Leonardo began flying ISPA6 on radar, avionics, and weapons integration test sorties.
Begining of weapon system integration on = Decembre 23 2019 ==> begining of E-Captor integration in 2020 and delivery in 2021 with only entry into service capabilities.On December 23, Leonardo began flying ISPA6 on radar, avionics, and weapons integration test sorties.
Nice news for Lutwaffe.E-Scan AESA radar for Luftwaffe Tranche 2 (79 jets) and Tranche 3 (31 jets) now approved.
Typhoon is getting the AESA at the same time as IAF Jaguars and LCAs.
Germany is set to become the first of the Eurofighter Typhoon partner nations to retrofit an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a move that should bolster the fighter’s export potential.
The German Parliament has given a green light for Berlin to spend €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) to install the Euroradar consortium’s Captor-E radar in all—around 106—of the German Air Force’s Tranche 2 and 3 aircraft from around 2023. Contracts should be signed in the coming weeks.
Export customers will receive Captor-E first. Kuwait has ordered 28 aircraft, and Qatar 24, and a batch of Kuwaiti aircraft will be delivered this year. But program officials believe that with the AESA finally receiving partner nation backing, the Typhoon’s chances in competitions closer to home may have moved up a notch.
AESA-equipped Typhoons are proposed for both Finland and Switzerland. But the radar’s capabilities could not be evaluated when the fighter took part in trials in those countries, as the participating aircraft were not fitted with it; its competitors were.
All four Eurofighter partner nations, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, supported development of the radar, done by a consortium of Leonardo, Hensoldt and Indra, but have been reluctant to make the retrofit investment. That is due in part to budgets, but also reflects their satisfaction with the currently installed mechanically scanned Captor. The AESA, however, boosts radar performance and range, giving the aircraft a sensor that can match the performance of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. A mechanical repositioner helps widen the radar’s field of view to around 200 deg., from 120 deg. with the existing mechanically scanned radar.
For the German retrofit program, Hensoldt will take a leading role in the production and delivery of the radars and act as the design authority, while Airbus will act as the test and integration lead.
“With this decision, Germany is taking on a pioneering role in the field of key technology for the Eurofighter for the first time,” says Hensoldt CEO Thomas Muller. “It is a signal for Europe that Germany is investing in a technology that is of crucial importance for European defense cooperation.”
Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke says the addition of the radar will increase the mission effectiveness of the aircraft and help integrate it with the Franco-German Spanish Future Combat Air System.
Leonardo, which led Captor-E development, will provide support to Hensoldt in its role as design authority. Leonardo will also supply the radar’s processor.
Three different versions of the Captor-E have been developed or are under development. The German retrofit program calls for the installation of the Mk. 1 radar, which has been developed from the Mk. 0 radar that will be delivered to Kuwait and Qatar. The Mk. 1 adds new modes and a multichannel receiver. Along with being retrofitted to the German Tranche 2 and 3 aircraft, it also likely will be fitted to the 38 new-build aircraft planned under Berlin’s Quadriga buy to replace its existing Tranche 1 Eurofighters, which lack the computing and electrical power for an AESA installation.
Work has also begun on the Radar 2 being developed for the UK, which will feature an electronic attack capability. It is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s, and the UK plans to install it on its Tranche 3 model aircraft.
Spain too is planning a retrofit program with the Mk. 1 radar, but also limited to its Tranche 3 fleet. Airbus revealed last November, however, that the novel coronavirus pandemic appears to have delayed Madrid’s plans.
An AESA has been part of the Eurofighter’s development road map for around 15 years. The consortium had originally hoped that it could form part of the Tranche 3 fleet. The capability was also part of the consortium’s ultimately unsuccessful offer for India. But it was not until 2014 that the first Captor-E development radar began flying in the aircraft, making an appearance at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow.
The AESA radar capability is added through the Eurofighter’s Phase 3B Enhancement (P3E(b)) package that will be delivered to Kuwait. Leonardo completed flight trials in support of the Mk. 0 radar development and P3E(b) in late May.
Along with the Quadriga purchase, known in Germany notionally as Tranche 4, the country is also planning to use the Eurofighter, as well as the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, to replace the Panavia Tornado fleet, although these plans are subject to parliamentary approvals that could come as late as 2022-23 (AW&ST May 4-17, p. 50). Egypt is also reportedly interested in purchasing up to 24 Eurofighters, possibly as part of a multibillion euro procurement from Italy that also includes jet trainers, helicopters and warships.