A £317m contract to develop the next generation of radar for Royal Air Force Typhoon jets has been awarded to BAE Systems and Leonardo.

BAE Systems and Leonardo have been awarded a contract to develop the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), the European Common Radar System Mark 2(ECRS Mk2) radar, to a standard ready to be integrated on to RAF Typhoons.

The Leonardo and BAE Systems plants in Edinburgh (300 jobs) and Dunfermline (100 jobs) pick up two-thirds of the 600 UK jobs that will be supported by the £317 million order.

According to BAE Systems in a news release:

“It will sustain more than 600 highly skilled jobs across the country, including more than 300 at Leonardo’s site in Edinburgh, over 100 electronic warfare specialists at the company’s site in Luton, and 120 engineers at BAE Systems’ site in Lancashire. The ECRS2 is a multi-functional array (MFA) that will give UK Typhoons a world-leading Electronic Warfare capability, in addition to traditional radar functions, including wide band Electronic Attack.

It will equip RAF pilots with the ability to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defences using high-powered jamming. They can engage targets whilst beyond the reach of threats – even when they’re looking in another direction – and operate inside the range of opposing air defences, remaining fully protected throughout. This game-changing capability will replace the mechanically-scanning radar that RAF Typhoons are currently equipped with and will ensure the UK retains the freedom to deliver air power wherever and whenever it is needed.”

Click to enlarge.

The firm also say that the radar enables the Typhoons to link up with “future data-driven weapons”.

Image via BAE Systems

Andrea Thompson, Managing Director Europe & International for BAE Systems’ Air sector, was quoted as saying:

“This capability will allow Typhoon to take its place in the future battlespace for decades to come, maturing key technologies for future combat air systems and ensuring interoperability. As well as securing highly skilled jobs, it will sustain the key skills needed to keep the UK at the forefront of the global Combat Air sector. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the Eurofighter nations and our industry partners to ensure Typhoon delivers the needs of today and answers the challenges of tomorrow.”

Mark Hamilton, Senior Vice-President Electronic Warfare, Leonardo, said:

“This contract is great news for the UK, which will get the world’s most capable fighter radar, and great news for British engineering. Inventing, developing and building advanced technology here in the UK allows us to understand and meet the specific requirements of our Armed Forces and to secure export orders all around the world, boosting the whole UK economy.”

Image via BAE Systems.

The new radar will be based on AESA technology.

BAE describe the system as having “significantly more Transmit-Receive Elements than other radars, making Mk2 the most capable fighter AESA radar in the world, maintaining the same power and precision of traditional radars but also enabling the simultaneous operation of its wide-band Electronic Warfare functionality”.

BAE Systems, the UK’s prime contractor for the Typhoon, will integrate the new sensor which will be developed by Leonardo, the UK’s defence electronics champion.

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George Royce

Great, now they just need to invest in upgrading the EJ200. Still missing thrust vectoring and the promise of increased power.


Won’t Germany’s new order be getting thrust vectoring?

George Royce

Not that I know of.


Never heard that mentioned.


The Typhoon has a good thrust to weight ratio right now. I think there are more urgent needs than new engines and thrust vectoring.

George Royce

Indeed, the Typhoon has excess power. But remember, the Typhoon is more or less a testbed of technology for the Tempest. So, any lessons learned from more powerful engines on a current platform, are welcome.

Nigel Collins

Thrust vectoring for Typhoon has been available for a decade now! “According to Eurojet, a Typhoon equipped with thrust vectoring nozzles (TVN) could reduce fuel burn on a typical mission by up to 5%, while increasing available thrust in supersonic cruise by up to 7%. Typhoon is already capable of performing ‘super-cruise’ (flying supersonically without afterburner) and the proposed modification will further increase this capability. Other cost-saving aspects of thrust vectoring include the potential to extend engine life by reducing operating temperatures at a given power setting. It could also be used to reduce take-off and landing distances and approach… Read more »

Robert Blay

The downside of TVN nozzles is they are pretty heavy, and require a considerable rewrite of the FBW software. The Airbus funded areo kit they tested the other year offers similar advantages of the TVN, but possibly cheaper. As with anything, it comes down to cost, and requirement.


Both the aero package and TVNs will need the fight control software amending. The Eurojet figures for the TVNs take into account the additional weight.

Robert Blay

Let’s see if either of them make it onto the jet at somepoint. I think the additional performance would welcome when flying in a very heavy stores configuration, over longer ranges. Storm Showdow fit with CTF’s for example. 👍

James M

IIRC Eurofighter tested some a few years back, and they were something like 40kg per engine. That’s nothing.

Nigel Collins

Sorry, I should have added, 40 kg weight penalty per engine.


I think the main improvement from the engine upgrade is the increased range, especially if they include the conformal fuel tanks they tested.

George Royce

I’m interested to know, how much fuel and range those conformal tanks would give the tiffy? They look ghastly but as long as they don’t affect performance too much they might be better than drop tanks.


Not sure how much tech the UK team can take from Eurofighter as its a separate entity and therefore separately owned IP. I guess it comes down to what type of deals were made when the firm was setup by the original nations.

Robert Blay

1500 each tank, and about 25% less drag. And frees up 2 more hard points for weapons. 👍 I think that’s roughly correct anyway 😄


Agreed dan.


Finally, it’s been a long time coming. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype – fingers crossed!


This must be fitted to the 67 Tranche 2 Typhoons, not just fitted to the 40 Tranche 3. Having 107 Typhoons with this capability will be essential to have a credible force, without it the Tranche 2 Typhoons would not have sufficient survivability in A2G operations against a peer with Integrated Air Defence. Even A2A operations will be compromised anything longer than short term.


What tranche are the QRA Typhoons again?


designated – tranche 1 though I think all Typhoons do QRA at some point

Nigel Collins


Jumping on the back of Germanys (90) Typhoon order and replacing some or all of the early Tranche 1 (53) aircraft would be a wise move especially if we intend to reduce F35 numbers overall and build a more modern fleet of fighters?

“The new active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar is initially planned for retrofit to 40 Tranche 3 Typhoons, with the option remaining for extension into Tranche 2 aircraft. The UK’s commitment to ECRS Mk 2 follows a similar commitment from Germany and Spain to deliver their own national requirements for an AESA radar.”


Meirion X

It be unlikely that the MoD will procure more TyphoonsTyphoons.
There is still about 50 in the sheds, with not enough pilots to fly them!

Meirion X

Bring back edit Function!

Nigel Collins

Perhaps a few more sheds then? 🤣

Nigel Collins

This is another very useful option for Typhoon and quite possibly cheaper to install across the fleet?

“When compared to a standard Eurofighter Typhoon lacking the AMK retrofit, the enhanced Typhoon’s angle of attack (AoA) was 45% greater, with faster roll rates around 100% higher. According to program test pilot Raffaele Beltrame”


Robert Blay

That’s the one. 👍


There’s a lot of newer tech available to turn the Typhoon into an even more deadly platform. New radar, an AMK, Thrust vectoring nozzles, conformal fuel tanks, updated engines etc. However it all depends on how much operator is willing to commit to their fleets as newer, 6th gen aircraft replace them.

The new radar is plenty enough for the UK as it stands, to make do until Tempest (or whatever becomes of that) enters service.


It’s not just about improving the Typhoon though, I could see engines being updated to de-risk technology such as adding that pre-cooler from Sabre engines.

Maybe a few Tranche 1 interceptors could get the new tech before moving on to Tempest engines for example.

It would give them Mig-31 like performance I suspect.


That’s certainly reasonable, though doesn’t BAE operate a few test typhoons just for this purpose?

Rob N

I think the Germans are going for the MK1 radar. Spain has only ordered a token number of MK1 radars thus far. It will be interesting to see if the MK2 is bought by existing MK1 nations. Also I suspect Italy may be interested in ghe MK2.

Any idea when the MK2 will come into RAF service?


Yes, Germany and Spain are going to use the Mk1 radar, and will be produced by Hensoldt and Indra. It can now be viewed as a separate entity compared to the Mk2 which will be made by Leonardo.


Interesting so much of the hassle and subsequent delays with Germany over Typhoon from the beginning has directly or indirectly revolved around their desire to use their radar in the aircraft. Seems in the end with a somewhat circular route they are getting their way.

Andrew dyson

I agree, replacing tranche 1 with a newer version based at leeming would provide resilience for both tempest and the F35 projects


Better late than never.


Glad to hear it, although I note there’s no delivery date into service…
Anyone know when the first are going to be brought in?


Probably far too late and just when we will be scrapping the Typhoon… 😆

Robert Blay

Don’t worry, it’s going to be in service well past 2040.


yes the entry date for the AESA radar is around the same as the out of entry date for the Typhoon fleet. This is standard practice for the RAF. We have been waiting a decade for this to be deployed and all we are getting is a further development contract. This 300 million wont put a single radar in a single typhoon.

Paul T

For £300 million might 3 more New Typhoons or 3 F35’s make more sense ?.


I thought entry date was mid 2020s?


Blue Circle radar costs less than £300m!

Robert Blay

Mid 2020’s


Contracted to deliver 3 prototypes and installation on one fighter for evaluation in 2022. If a follow on serial production contract is awarded for the tranche 3 they will be in service in 2025. Tranche 2 retrofitting not currently planned (and would be more costly as Tranche 3 were built to accommodate an AESA radar with cooling and power connections whereas Tranche 2 would have to be remanufactured to have them fit and Tranche 1 the structural frame couldn’t accomodate them).


Not completely true. The Tranche 1s could be modified to Tranche 3B standard. Both Leonardo and Airbus have packages for Italian and Spanish Tranche 1s respectively. Admittedly it would probably be better to start with a new build rather than modifying the oldest aircraft in the fleet.


Yes when you have to replace the airframe, the ‘bones’ of the aircraft the remanufacturing costs are close to a newbuild whilst refitting the already used equipment. Its pretty much whats been done for the B-52 where they developed a process to peel off the skin, replace the frame underneath then rebond the skin again, replacing the airframe to life extend a 60+ year old aircraft cost 50% of purchasing a brand new state of the art bomber.


If its only being funded for development then it’s still a long way off. It feels more like this is being built for Tempest than Typhoon at this point. No time lines given is also a bit worrying, we could be talking end of the decade.


Is it worth the huge cost when tempests around the corner?.

However we have and Need To test, evaluate and deploy it on Typhoons and get its development perfect, but should we just use tranche 3s to save money?


I think that’s what will happen, I think there is a chance the MOD will place a small follow on order of Typhoons if the Saudi’s do not order this second batch to keep the production lines open until 2030s so they will recieve the new radar as well and the T1 Typhoons will be retired or sold off.


I suppose lots of The typhoon upgrades ect will also help in the future development of Tempest. And the money Spent on the Typhoon platforms upgrades ect will help the Tempest Project out Money wise a good bit.

Do we have any idea on the Radar type, engine type, load, range, weapons of Tempest yet? I would love to know If they’ve agreed on the important stuff yet.


Business case for tempest to be submitted to government end of the year by Bae. We should then find out more….


No, theyve announced a breakthrough in onboard energy generation and a joint engine development between Rolls Royce and Reaction Engines to integrate Sabre tech into a Rolls Royce Turbofan design. Theyve also announced theyve developed threat warning sensors that are a tenth the size and four times as sensitive as existing warning sensors. Theres also some semi-official design targets floating around that it would have a cruising speed of just under 2000 mph (Mach 2.5) and a combat radius of 1000 nmi (about twice F-35).

John Clark

Typhoon will certainly benefit from advanced AESA. The trouble is that it’s grinding on at a snails pace, probably late 2020’s before it’s in wide spread service. It absolutely needs to be retrofitted to batch 2 machines, the fact that they weren’t built to easily accommodate the new radar is absolutely scandalous! A couple of mods I would have thought sensible, would be the German developed wing mods to improve high alpha performance and a modest thrust increase. The once proposed EJ230 would at 23,000lb thrust per engine, would be a good fit, this would give improved TBO and reduce… Read more »


A crushing speed of Mach 2.5 could indicate a top speed that breaks some records on full afterburner. Any link for these semi-official design targets?


That would suggest some serious input from Reaction Engines tech I would say if true, it’s a massive step forward in a space where things start to get complex. All speculation and ‘maybes’ to be honest, but if that is at all achievable in this timeframe I wonder how the Franco German effort will achieve that sort of performance. Would US companies be allowed to provide that for them under licensing? It’s the sort of thing Trump or someone like him following would see as a serious threat to US domination of military exports and thus influence and profits and… Read more »


Agreed, the European jet will either be a home grown engine (not likely to be outstanding now BAE and RR are out of the picture) or US imported (again, won’t be anything special because the US exporting a Mach 4 engine in 10 years is like exporting the SR71 tech in the 70s/80s. Like you said, not gonna happen.


The French will not use a US or UK made engine, as it’s simply not done old boy! Seriously though they will use a development of the Rafale’s Snecma M88 engine. Both Germany’s MTU and Spain’s ITP have had an input in to producing the EJ200, so will likely bring their knowledge to the program, especially as they both had a hand in 3D thrust vectoring nozzles (TVNs). Whether this is enough to compete with the replacement engine going to be used in the Tempest is debatable. For instance RR hold the patent for the internal electrical generator that’s a… Read more »


Yep, that’s what I was getting at. It just likely won’t be anything outstanding, just adequate. Any idea how Tempest’s engines might perform? I certainly think we have the potential to make something exemplary but of course it depends on costs.



The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

Great news 👍🏻 Although don’t really think thrust vector is a priority as Ariel snoop D O double GG dog fighting is kinda out the window with BVR missile technology increasing. Hopefully the U.K. Japan collaboration in this field with meteor reported on this site Jan 15th 2017 is still ongoing.?

The TVNs are more than just for slow speed agility or helping reduce take-off and landing distances. A good example is to watch the video of the F22 test pilot give a presentation at MIT on the F22s flight controls. The F22s uses the 2D TVN in combination with the mechanical flight controls to maintain its low RCS. But more significantly it allows the F22 to still be controllable at altitude, where the mechanical flight controls have less of an effect. The Typhoon is not an F22, so its RCS is not comparable. However, by using TVNs in combination with… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

Italians could choose it over the Mk1 as well, then. Links to Tempest?


It doesn’t look like the Italians are going to put AESA in their Typhoons, they’ve not got the cash and are putting what they have in F-35


40? lol


Hence the need to retrofit into the 67 Tranche 2 Typhoons


Excellent, send that up with a brace of those 6 way Spear3/EW rails and a flight of Typhoons can tear a falling hole in somebody’s A2AD.


I heard that other European countries were developing one together, and we decided we were going to make one that fitted our requirements better. Is this our version?


Yep, we saw the F35’s radar and realised the mk1 wasn’t up to par haha


Correct we couldn’t persuade the Germans to include Electronic Attack for SEAD and survivability, they’re only concerned with preventing it from being jammed and doing what it already does but better.

We want Typhoon to operate alongside F-35 with as similar capabilities as can be achieved and paired with Spear-EW this will be a formidable combination. We need to do it by mid 2020’s while we take a break from F-35 orders waiting for block 4 to go into production as that’s the block we must have and upgrade from block 3 is estimated at $22m per aircraft.

Paul T

Its a bit of a strange decision for the Luftwaffe to go for the EA-18G for dedicated SEAD missions when a SEAD version of Typhoon has been proposed,i guess it ties in with the E/F purchase.Would i be right in saying that the F35 in all its versions pretty much negates the need for a dedicated SEAD Aircraft,or would they still have a role to play ?.


Yes, a F35 could be viewed as a dedicated SEAD aircraft. It will significantly outperform any 4th gen aircraft in this respect on a number of factors. The key one is that it can get a lot closer without either being detected or tracked. Another is that by using the aircraft’s APG-81 radar in the passive mode, it will detect transmissions earlier than other aircraft, as the antenna size allows it to be more sensitive than other fighter sized aircraft. The F35 can be viewed as a true multirole aircraft, in that it can do the following: Ground attack, Air… Read more »

Paul T

Cheers Davey – As a what if regarding the Tornado i wonder if a makeover was considered,upgraded Avionics,more modern Manufacturing Processes but more importantly EJ200 Engines,it could have been effective even by todays standards.


On a what-if note, if the 2014 referendum had been a YES vote then it’s inconceivable that this radar would have been developed in Scotland, an independent Scotland neither being a member of the Eurofighter consortium nor allowed to develop any sensitive UK only technologies and IP. The Leonardo and BAe Systems facilities, and their jobs, would likely have simply relocated to elsewhere in UK.


It would’ve already been moved south by now.


Excellent news! What with Reaction Engines working with RR, work starting on HS2 and Boris Johnson insisting on a doubling of fishing quota for UK fishermen from UK waters it feels like a good day!


So is this being funded out of the #2billion concept funding previously announced for Tempest?




I suppose that it will also be offered up for upgrades to the Mid East buyers. Probably at an exorbitant fee per aircraft by BAE but it will keep a lot of my friends happy who work across the water supporting the aircraft.
The upgrades to the Tonkas which completed a few years ago gave the RSAF an aircraft that is far more reliable, capable and accurate than any of the other aircraft that they use especially the F15. No reason why it won’t be the same for Typhoon.

Mr Bell

About time too. I was worried the RAF was going to fall very far behind the best air defence fighters in the world. This new radar with a Eurofighter typhoon armed with Meteor and Asraam will be very impressive.

George Parker

This is good news.


I think I’m missing something. Wasn’t there already an AESA radar developed for the Typhoon called the CAPTOR-E?

john melling

The European Common Radar System Mark 2(ECRS Mk2) radar is the most advanced variant of the CAPTOR-E

T uk

Tempest work being spun as the upgrade for Typhoon. The decade long debacle over slow upgrades for Typhoon and the ludicrous manned Tempest project will be the death knell for UK fast jet development.

Faster Typhoon upgrades and Aesa would have meant more orders and a Tempest UCAV with potential reaction engine tech could be fielded in the last 20’s.

We will end up with a few Typhoons with Aesa and Tempest being cancelled.