Thales Starts Low-Rate Output of AESA Radar


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Thales Starts Low-Rate Output of AESA Radar

By pierre tran
Published: 3 Nov 11:35 EST (16:35 GMT)
Paris - A new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar from Thales has entered low-rate initial production, with a delivery for the Rafale fighter aircraft scheduled for 2010, said Pierre-Yves Chaltiel, senior vice president in the Airborne Systems Division.
"This capability has ended the development phase and has entered production," Chaltiel told journalists Nov. 3. A follow-on contract for full-scale production of the AESA RBE2 radar is due to be signed in 2009 as part of the fourth tranche order of 60 Rafales, he said.
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"Final validation of the software functions is expected to end in the first quarter of 2010 with the delivery of AESA radars to Dassault," Thales said in a statement.
The full production contract would be worth "several hundred million euros," Chaltiel said.
The first production batch consists of three to four units of the AESA radar and is part of a development contract worth more than 200 million euros ($257 million) signed in 2006 with the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement procurement office under the Rafale Roadmap plan.
The Roadmap program was intended to speed up development of the AESA sensor and deliver self-protection gear to make the Rafale from Dassault Aviation more attractive in export markets. Accelerated delivery of an AESA radar was France's response to the loss of a fighter competition in Singapore to Boeing's F-15 Eagle combat jet.
The Rafale currently uses a passive array antenna for air-to-air and air-to-ground use. Once equipped with the active antenna, the Rafale would have a five-year technology lead over European competition aircraft, Chaltiel said.
Test and evaluation by French and foreign air forces showed as recently as last month the radar's capabilities, which include collaborative fire between two Rafales using a Link 16 connection, he said.
Chaltiel also is head of a newly created division, Aerospace Solutions for Government, which deals with military contracts.