Subscribe Free
in Defence / Features

New Middle East Typhoons could be a game-changer

Posted 2 July 2021 · Add Comment

The Eurofighter Typhoons that will soon be delivered to Kuwait and Qatar will be the most advanced examples of the type produced to date, with phase three enhancement (P3Eb) software and the new Captor-E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Top-of-the-range: The most capable Typhoon flying today is this two-seat test aircraft, ISPA 6. It is fully representative of the configuration that will be delivered to the Kuwait Air Force, including the ECRS.Mk 0 version of the Captor-E radar. Picture: Alessandro Maggia.

AESA radar is a game-changer for combat aircraft, producing highly accurate weapons-quality tracks at long range, and allowing simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.

Traditional AESA radars use a fixed antenna, consisting of hundreds of individual transmit/receive modules (TRMs) and ‘steer’ the radar beam by ‘phase shifting’. Scan patterns can be interrupted, and several beams can be transmitted simultaneously, though this naturally reduces radar range, compared to focusing all available power into a single beam.

However, AESA radars using a fixed plate antenna experience reductions in power and sensitivity whenever the radar beam is steered far from the aircraft’s extended centreline or ‘boresight’. Typically, transmitted power will be reduced by around 25% at 40° off the nose, and by 50% at 60° off the centreline, with a commensurate reduction in range. Nor can the beam normally be steered much further off the nose than 60°.

Captor-E does not suffer from this disadvantage, since a simple two-axis repositioner (consisting of two rotating wedge-shaped rings) can actually steer the AESA array to point the antenna physically, so that the radar can ‘look’ at angles beyond 90° off-boresight, and power losses at extreme azimuth angles are minimised.

This means that, after firing a beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile, the Typhoon can support it in flight, with mid-course updates, even if it turns perpendicular to the target. Doing this will cause the Typhoon to virtually disappear from the screen of an opponent’s pulse doppler radar (this is known as being ‘in the notch’), and will allow the Typhoon to stay supersonic.

With other radars, the fighter launching a missile could only ‘crank’ to a smaller ‘angle off’, and would have to slow down to delay entering the enemy aircraft’s opponent launch success zone (OLSZ), while waiting for its own missile to reach a position where it could ‘go pitbull’ (become autonomous using its own radar seeker).

The new ECRS.Mk 0 version of Captor-E is flying in a two-seat Italian Eurofighter test aircraft (CSX 55169, known as ISPA 6), which is also flying with the latest iteration of the P3Eb software.

ISPA 6 made its first flight at Turin-Caselle in December 2019, and began the so-called ‘E-SCAN XCR#1’ flight-test campaign. The pilots were Mario Mutti, chief test pilot combat aircraft and standardization for Leonardo Aircraft’s flight operations division, and Captain Enrico Scarabotto.

“The operational advantage of Captor-E has been clear since the early stages of development,” said Mutti. “E-Scan is a very sharp tool, fast in detection and track formation, already robust and consistent in and out of the track memory mode due to the instantaneous agility that the electronically steered beam provides when controlled by smart algorithms.

“The antenna repositioner allows the radar to almost instantly cover a significantly larger volume of space than a fixed plate AESA. The pilot interface is intuitive and workload is reduced by a large degree of smart automation.”

Writes Jon Lake.

 

 

 

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

The Allen key to success

Steve Allenís promotion to executive vice president of Dnata has come at a tough time for the industry, but, as he tells Jill Stockbridge, he is unlocking opportunities and planning growth.

Gulfstream adds new features to the G280

Gulfstream Aerospace has added several new features and options to the popular super-midsize Gulfstream G280 as investment in the aircraft and interest in the segment continue.

Why pilot mental health has jumped up the agenda

After a six-month delay, new EU pilot mental fitness rules came into effect earlier this year. With many non-EU countries and airlines mirroring European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) best practice, several Middle East carriers are

Accelerating the transition of long-haul aviation towards net zero

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Shell are investing in technology required to achieve the transition of long-haul aviation towards net zero.

Boeing releases Q3 deliveries

The Boeing Company has announced programme deliveries across its commercial and defence operations for the third quarter of 2021.

Al Qubaisi named as new director-general of UAE national space agency

The UAE has appointed Salem Butti Salem Al Qubaisi as the new director-general of its national space agency.

WDS SK2601090322
See us at
DIACC BT0809131121Aviation Africa 2022DAS BT2909181121World Defence Show 2022