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Friday, February 11, 2011

AESA for India: Thales Puts It Back On the Radar Screen

In recent weeks the talk about active electronically scanned array radars in relation to the Indian MMRCA fighter competition had quieted down a bit. No surprise, really, that it would reemerge during the Aero India air show.

The MMRCA competition really has been a galvanizing force for European AESA activity. While companies were doing development work even in advance and several European militaries had expressed interest, it is the prospect of selling 126 fighters or more to India that has firmed up many of the plans. Europe was doubly motivated by the fact the two U.S. offerings -- the F/A-18E/F and F-16 -- already have AESAs ready for offer.

blog post photo
(Photo: Thales)

Thales now says its work on the AESA RBE2 passed an important milestone after flight trials on a Rafale during September to December of last year. The company says that Rafale prime contractor Dassault Aviation has validated that the system meets the technical requirement laid out by the French defense procurement agency, the DGA.

The first French Rafales with the AESA radar are to be delivered in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium is funding its radar work, as it waits for the four core government buyers -- the U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain -- to formalize a contract.

Saab has an AESA as a key element of the Gripen NG roadmap, and in 2009 completed a series of flight trials.

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