Home » Air » Dassault Delivers AESA Radar-Equipped Euro Fighter

Dassault Delivers AESA Radar-Equipped Euro Fighter

by defensetech on October 4, 2012

More than a decade behind the U.S., the first European fighter equipped with an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has been delivered to a customer.

Dassault delivered Rafale serial number C137, the first production aircraft equipped with a Thales RBE2 AESA, to French defense procurement agency DGA on Oct. 2.

The aircraft will be used by the French air force trials center CEAM at Mont-de-Marsan for operational evaluation of the new radar. Development flight testing is complete.

Production deliveries to operational units will not begin until mid-2013, Dassault says, as another five or six Rafales with mechanically scanned RBE radars remain to be delivered.

U.S. manufacturers, meanwhile, are moving to tap a potential 1,000-aircraft market to upgrade Lockheed Martin F-16s with AESAs, beginning with Taiwan, South Korea and the U.S. Air Force itself.

Spurred by the expectations of the export market, European fighter manufacturers are moving to catch up with their U.S. rivals on offering active-array radars. Availability of Thales’ RBE2 AESA on the Rafale was a key element in Dassault’s January victory in India’s 126-fighter medium multi-role combat aircraft competition.

In July, the four European nations behind the Typhoon fighter, which lost in India, asked the Eurofighter consortium for firm proposals to develop an AESA for fielding in 2015. Eurofighter and the Selex Galileo-led Euroradar consortium already are working on an AESA on industry funds, but a formal development contract is expected early next year.

Eurofighter, meanwhile, has begun flight testing the final set of Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) for the Typhoon. Accomplished through two separate software releases, the P1E “robust simultaneous multirole capability” upgrade will establish the aircraft baseline for the AESA upgrade, Eurofighter says.


P1E upgrades to Tranche 2 production aircraft and structural changes in Tranche 3a will introduce provisions for the electronically scanned radar, the consortium says. The wing and rear fuselage for the first Tranche 3a Typhoon were delivered by Alenia Aermacchi to BAE Systems in late September.

Availability of an AESA is key in South Korea, where Eurofighter is competing against the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-35 for a 60-aircraft order, with a decision expected as early as this month.

Korea plans to retrofit 134 F-16C/Ds with AESAs and has selected BAE Systems to lead the aircraft’s upgrade, but is conducting a separate competition for the radar, with incumbent Northrop Grumman offering its Sabr AESA against Raytheon’s Racr.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded the $1.85 billion contract to upgrade 145 Taiwanese F-16A/Bs, but Taiwan plans to use the AESA that the U.S. Air Force selects for its 300-aircraft F-16C/D Combat Aviation Programmed Extension Suite (Capes) upgrade.

“Taiwan has asked the U.S. government to select an AESA for them as part of the Air Force plan,” says Jim Hvizd, who is leading Raytheon’s Racr sales campaign. “Korea has a slightly different approach and is conducting its own competitive assessment.”

“Korea is working loosely with the Air Force, but Taiwan is tightly coupled,” says Joe Ensor, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems’ intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting systems division.

A U.S. Air Force request for proposals for an AESA upgrade for domestic and international F-16s is expected “any day now,” Ensor says, with award of a contract expected in the third or fourth quarter of next year.

Initial operational capability of the Air Force’s Capes upgrade is planned for 2018, which will pace foreign military sales availability of an AESA for international F-16 operators. “The earliest Taiwan could get it is 2017,” Ensor believes.

Both Northrop and Raytheon plan to offer a single baseline standard of AESA radar for both U.S. F-16C/Ds and Taiwanese F-16A/Bs, as well as subsequent customers, with Singapore in initial discussions to upgrade 60 F-16C/Ds.

For Europe, meanwhile, the availably of active-array radars in the Rafale and Saab Gripen NG could prove crucial in the Brazilian competition against the AESA-equipped Boeing F/A-18E/F for a 36-aircraft order, now expected to be decided by mid-2013.

– This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

 – by Graham Warwick

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

USA October 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm

mby that can happen but stealth technology can get better also befor radar can detect it but either way it can go new and better radar is very important.im glad to see our allies using better TEC


tomatojuice October 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Its funny because I was just looking at :

the other day. Through the span of 5 minutes, Taiwan got hit a majority of the time.


Joe October 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Why do you leave out of the article all of the Israeli AESA radars that have been delivered to customers?

Some examples are the EL/M-2052, EL/W-2085 and EL/W-2090.


S O October 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Israel is not in Europe.
The only occasionally get counted as Europeans in sports etc cuz the Asians don't want them.


Ron October 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

Sooo why does an article about the Dassault Rafale both lead with a picture of the Eurofighter Typhoon AND use the latter's name in the actual title?


E_Khun October 5, 2012 at 4:27 am

The US isn't the only country that can sell weapons to countries that could potentially become their enemies :-)

On a more seious note, the French did help Britain with the Exocet threat during the Falklands war. So it might actually be better to let the an ally sell weapons (Yes, France is an ally, really. Not a best buddy but certainly an ally) then to let those countries buy Russian or Chinese weapons. Because they will buy weapons from someone.


So? October 5, 2012 at 5:36 am

Apparently those cheese-eating surrender monkeys surrendered the Iraqi IADS blueprints (which they built) to Uncle Sam back in ODS.


Gunslinger6 October 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

Grounds keeper Willie. Classic!!!


blight_ October 5, 2012 at 9:49 am

To be fair, the French had soldiers serving in ODS; so it served their interests to not lose their own soldiers and pilots to gear they had supplied the Iraqis.


Torstein Tobiassen October 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

How did the french help the brits in 1982? The Exocet missiles built for export were all fitted with a radio receiver through which a signal to blow up the missile could be sent in the event it was launched at a french warship. The brits went to war without the french radiotransmitters needed to blow up the exocets. Dozens of sailors were killed and several ships sunk. After the war the french sold exocets to many countries, and so they had let many british sailors die to make some money. What a good ally.


Praetor October 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm

good point


blight_ October 6, 2012 at 8:11 am

Many more kills came from iron bombs…all from American Skyhawks.


chris October 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Most of the bombs dropped from Skyhawks did not explode because they were dropped too low for the bombs to arm.

Many Americans who had worked with these bombs understood exactly what was happening but did not speak up. If the Argies had disabled the bombs' safety devices, there would have been many, many more dead Brits if they had. In fact, the Brits would have lost the war if those bombs had exploded.

chris October 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Your story about the radio receiver is utterly fanciful. Such a device would be easily spotted and disabled by the country using the missile.

No country would voluntarily go to war with weapons that could be sabotaged.

Just silly.


Papi1960R October 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm

This pages editorial staff is in the pisser. Hire a proof reader, or make a intern slot for a English major student.


Montaudran October 5, 2012 at 3:08 am

The radar which remain to delivered aren't "Mechanically" but Passive ESA


Cazimir October 5, 2012 at 8:36 am

Reply to Montaudran, Ron, etc.
France not being a anglo-saxon country, it is not believe to be able to develop some technology which could match the Us one, as France was not believe to be able to develop its own nuclear deterrence force.
- the title "Euro fighter" referring to the Eurofighter typhoon – produces by anglo-saxons (UK, Germany);
- the picture: an eurofighter instead of a Rafale;
- the text: France has still Mechanically scanned array radar in service, although indeed we are having PESA; and
- the article follows on with the Eurofighter which try to catch the AESA track also, and the upgrade perspectives of the F-16.
How to be surprise that French are "cold" allies as they are treated as "untermenschen" since the end of the WW2 ?
This also apply in the French research superstructure, where clearly it is not allowed to be in at the forefront of research (what was the case of France before 1940), but just behind…


Jmos October 5, 2012 at 4:47 am

Correct me if I’m wrong but us arms agreement states that even if we sell AESA RADARs to the French the French could not turn around and sell thoughs jets to a not so friendly nation without U.S. approval


Serguei October 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

Like Ron, I think that a picture of Rafale would not have been wrong to illustrate this article…. Like this http://www.defense.gouv.fr/var/dicod/storage/imag


Serguei October 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

Jmos, this radar is 100% Thales made in France & UK. Not U.S.


Serguei October 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

Designed and made, of course


Cazimir October 5, 2012 at 10:12 am

Reply to Montaudran, Ron, etc.
France not being an anglo-saxon country, it is not believed to be able to develop some technology which could match the US one, in thge same manner as France was not believed to be able to develop its own nuclear deterrence force.
- the title "Euro fighter" referring to the Eurofighter typhoon – produces by anglo-saxons (UK, Germany) instead of Rafale;
- the picture: an Eurofighter typhoon instead of a Rafale;
- the text: France has still mechanically scanned array radar in service, although indeed we are having PESA on all the Rafales except the # C137; and
- the article follows on with the Eurofighter which try to catch the AESA track also, and similar upgrade perspectives of the F-16.
How to be surprise that French are "cold" allies as they are seen as sub-capable human beings since the end of the WW2 ?
This also apply in the French research superstructure, where clearly it is therein not allowed to be in at the forefront of research (what was the case of France before 1940), but just behind…
The same treatment applies to the slavic peoples, especially the Russians (Soviets were the first to have an ESA radar on a fighter, i.e. the Mig-31, at the very beginning of the 80's).


blight_ October 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

It may have to do with de Gaulle's partial withdrawal of the French military from direct command and control by NATO: or it may be an effect of the post-WW2 intimate collaboration between the US and UK. The writing has been on the wall for decades, and it's hard to beat that kind of intimate working relationship. Certainly the common cultural background (at least a few hundred years ago) set the early foundations of the relationship between both nations, even though one was formed by secession from the other.


Joe October 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

Be interesting to see if they can use that radar as an EW/IW capability


Papi1960R October 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Why is that a question to you? Rafale(as well as Gripen C-D) is not welcome back to Red Flag or Green Flag in the USA. Why? Because your not supposed to kick ass on the USAF, at their big dance, with your OLD, VERY Limited radar. Very advanced equipment and people in the FAF. And a government that is willing to use it.


Praetorian October 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

cough, cough….. ********. Im not saying they didnt kick ***, I want to see your proof that they are not welcome back.


Segei October 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I see you now Cow Boy do you see me


Brian Black October 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

This development represents the precarious technological advantage of the F35 over its rivals.

Back in 2003 the IOC for the Royal Navy’s F35 was to be this year, with the aircraft having been in US operational service for a couple of years already; now the UK F35′s IOC is not until 2019.

Other European and North American manufacturers have been given a grace period of several years, time in which to introduce AESA radar and other hardware and software improvements to their products. Not good news for LM.


So? October 5, 2012 at 12:53 am

Gaddafi stringed the French along with the Rafale purchase till they could wait no longer and gave him a live fire demonstration.


Michael October 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

The Russian already got their own AESA radar, said to be from nanotechnology. What to fear about the french developing their own?


You are Correct October 8, 2012 at 11:15 pm

For once, I agree with you black owl.


Praetorian October 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm
@mfreemanf22 October 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

Good analysis!!


Lance October 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Id say Russia is 10 year behind the west and China 15 years. Don't over fear them but work on modernization of Eagles and falcons and keep F-22s current. Sack the F-35.

Overall Stealth is way over rated since radar tech is starting to detect stealth tech and China is way behind so new radars can detect older steal tech.

Good thoughts Melcyna but Stealth is way over rated.


Papi1960R October 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Great comment Lance. You forgot the part where China and Russia are more than willing to pay US technicans, Military Officers and Politicans for 5-10-15 years of advancement.
Unfortunately, there have always been Americans ready and willing to accept that bounty and give up American Advances.


Phono October 8, 2012 at 5:21 am

So tell me what kind of radar is a russian S-400 System using?


Chris October 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Don’t forget the faked moon landings and that the Bush family funded the rise of the Nazis.


blight_ October 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

Scanning or tracking?

Amusingly, the S-400 has M, LR and ELR missiles, a TMD variant of the LR missile.

A "panoramic radar", plus multifunction units that deploy with or near the TEL.

And strangely enough, the Russians may export versions to the South Koreans or the Saudis… http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Strategihttp://www.defencetalk.com/kmsam-program-achieves


blight_ October 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

"Plans to create an 11th carrier air wing, one for each aircraft carrier."

There are ten Nims, plus the Enterprise. So as each Ford is completed, Enterprise and a Nim will go.

"Q. There’s no current Navy requirement for a fleet frigate.
A. The LCS has many useful roles, but one of them is not deploying with the battle groups. It doesn’t have the range."

Scarily, the naval-technology blurb suggests range is important, when it says: "The two designs are quite different, although both satisfy the top-level performance requirements and technical requirements of the LCS programme. Both achieve sprint speeds of over 40kt and long-range transit distances of over 3,500 miles."

Of course, we all know this is cruising as opposed to sprint, which is less than half that.

"Q. Would you review the LCS program?
A. I’ll always be reviewing it, but there’s no intention to cancel it. We’re very much in favor of a high-low mix and having deployable ships. "

There's a comment re Super Hornet production stops. The last agreed-to-purchase was signed in 2010 to be completed by 2014. What's implicit is that the Navy hasn't budgeted for additional procurements, and this is effectively end of the line for the Super Hornet.


"Q. One carrier is always in a long-term refueling overhaul. What would you do with that extra wing?
A. We would go back to keeping a reserve wing fully modernized with the same equipment as an active air wing. And the ability to surge and get whatever carrier that’s in overhaul out quickly — and there’s nothing written in stone that a refueling overhaul has to take four years. They didn’t used to take that long. If there’s an emergency, remember what was done in World War II, how fast the carriers in dry dock were brought out and repaired. You can’t just throw together an air wing like that. The principle is we would have an air wing for every deck."

Not sure if R can be made faster. Refueling is a fairly involved process, and I imagine during wartime you would skip that step if you could or push it off. Perhaps in wartime if battle damage were severe enough that the flight deck around the reactor had to be partially rebuilt, one could just go ahead and remove the reactor (and perhaps you might have to if you weren't confident that the reactor had sustained no damage).

Fun question. If the reactor is damaged and there's a modest leak of radioactivity in the ship, how long would it take to contain, remove the reactor, ship it to Hanford and replace it, then decon the ship and repair the damage?


blight_ October 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm


At least they're recognizing the manpower bloat issue (one that the hated Carl Meyer loves so much, and I don't fault him for going after them on manpower)

"All of the services have had a gross distortion put in, because they have to man their share of so many of these new, [joint task forces] that have been created, more for bureaucratic reasons. There are now 250 joint task forces, and they all require uniformed manning from all the services. Most of that is driven by Goldwater-Nichols, because you had to create joint billets so that every officer could get their four years on a joint staff.

And the Joint Staff itself in the Pentagon is, according to the Defense Business Board, almost three times the size of what it was during the Reagan administration, with half the size of the force.

So there’s been this bureaucratic bloat, not driven by intention, but by the fact that all these new offices are created in [the Pentagon] and in the combatant commands and the functional commands, that you have to provide people for them. There’s just not a requirement for that. So that needs to really have a real serious scrub, and those billets freed up for our operational sailors."


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