Airbus to lead Eurofighter radar integration effort

Airbus has been contracted to develop, supply and integrate 115 Captor-E electronically scanned array (E-Scan) radars for the German and Spanish Eurofighter EF-2000 multi-role fighter fleets.

The contract was awarded after the governments of both nations approved the upgrade plans in June. Airbus will deliver and integrate 110 Captor-E radars to Germany, along with an initial batch of five systems for Spain. The system will be employed by Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Eurofighters and will be installed on new aircraft.

Eurofighter EF-2000 [Airbus] #1
A pair of Luftwaffe (German Air Force) EF-2000s - serials 30+33 (c/n 116) and 30+40 (c/n 130) - take to the skies. Airbus

The development and manufacture of the radar has been subcontracted to a consortium, headed by German-based sensor solution company, Hensoldt, and Spain’s Indra. It will also be supported by Eurofighter partner firms. Integration work will be conducted by Airbus at its facilities in Manching, Germany, and Getafe, Spain. Deliveries are expected to be completed by 2023.

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “The contract for the Captor-E radar is a main achievement to equip Eurofighter with sensors that ensure todays dominance of the aircraft also in the threat scenarios of tomorrow… With Eurofighter, Germany and Spain are investing in a strong backbone of European air defence and in the leading project of the European defence industry.”

German Eurofighter EF-2000 [USAF/A1C Jessi Monte] #1
A German Air Force EF-2000 - serial 31-00 - in flight. USAF/A1C Jessi Monte

The Captor-E E-Scan radar suite will be the future primary sensor on the Eurofighter aircraft. It provides a full suite of air-to-air and air-to-surface surveillance modes, with increased detection and tracking ranges and enhanced electronic protection when compared with the current Captor-M mechanically scanned array platform.

According to Airbus, the Captor-E’s “larger antenna surface also allows a wider field of regard than any other platform, pushing the aircraft’s performance and guaranteeing its role as a valuable asset within the Future Combat Air System environment.”

Eurofighter Radar Upgrade Germany [Airbus]
A digital concept of the future Captor-E E-scan radar system that will be employed by the German and Spanish Eurofighter fleet. Airbus

The company hopes that this integration effort will provide an “additional push” for potential Eurofighter exports. Nations – such as Finland and Switzerland – are currently in the market for a new multi-role fighter aircraft, opening the door for further exports of the type.

In April, the German government announced plans to acquire a further 93 aircraft, 55 of which will be procured as part of replacement efforts for the Luftwaffe’s ageing Panavia Tornado IDS/ECR fleet. Another 38 examples are being sought to replace the air arm’s older Tranche 1 Eurofighters.