During a visit to Australia, Harriet Baldwin announced the intention to look at the feasibility of fitting the Australian CEAFAR radar on future British warships.

Alongside Australian Defence Minister Pyne, Harriet Baldwin announced the intention to look at the feasibility of fitting the Australian radar on future British warships.

The pair announced that a capability study to fit CEA Technologies CEAFAR radar to British ships will begin early next year at the second Australia/UK Defence Industry Dialogue in Adelaide.

CEAFAR is an active phased array radar with a microwave tile-based design. The combination of the microwave tile and the Digital Beam Forming backend provides a modular, programmable and scalable solution say the manufacturer.

Pyne said CEA Technologies designed and manufactured this advanced phased array radar for the eight Anzac Class Frigates as part of their Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade Programme.

The government has also stipulated that Future Frigates will also be fitted with the CEA radar.

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne MP said the announcement was an important follow up to last week’s dialogue and showed the continuing strengthening of defence industry ties between the two countries:

“Australia and the United Kingdom have much that can be gained from increasing cooperation around defence industry. A great outcome of last week’s dialogue, announced today, is the possibility of the cutting edge Australian CEA radars being used for the future UK Warships. Canberra’s CEA Technologies designs and manufactures advanced phased array radars for our Navy’s eight Anzac Class Frigates as part of their Anti-Ship Missile Defence Upgrade Program and the recently announced Long Range Air Search Radar replacement.

The Turnbull Government has also mandated that Australia’s future frigates will have a CEA radar as one of its core capabilities. I’m excited by the possibility of sharing this great capability with one of our closest and oldest allies and the landmark export opportunity this presents for Australia’s burgeoning defence industry.”



    • Maybe, yet the Aussie radar could be the right choice? At the end of the day, whichever system works best we should fit. I like the idea of sharing systems with Australia, why not?

  1. Amazing story. The UK has some of the best radar in the world and we are looking elsewhere. I find this incredible.

    Nothing against the Aussies or this radar – just think we should develop Sampson and Artisan unless I am missing something here.

    Suspect we are looking at this being on T31 and the Aussies buying the T26/T31 designs.

    Will be interesting to see how this pans out, but its a waste of money looking at it unless we are serious.

    • It seems you are not understanding the article at all.

      We want to sell the type 26 to Australia for its future frigate program. Australia requires their CEAFAR radar to be on their future frigate, therefore we are seeing if we can put an Australian CEAFAR radar on a type 26 so that they will pick it.

      • this is nothing to do with us trying to sell the type 26 frigate, if you read it closely and look for other sources you can see this is for future british warships, if we this was for the australian type 26, then it would say australian ships and not British.

        • It is everything to do with us trying to sell the type 26 frigate. We already have a brand new radar fitted to the type 23 and plan to install it on our type 26s.

          The CEAFAR radar is a requirement of the Australians future frigate, therefore to sell the type 26 to them it needs to be able to be fitted with a CEAFAR radar.

          Future British ships in this case, means British designed ships (type 26), built for Australia.

          • Even if it was the case there is not a chance in hell that any Australian radar gets fitted on a RN ship before 2035 at the earliest. The type 26 is using ARTISAN and it looks highly likely that the type 31 will use some form of it. HMS Oceon, HMS Bulwark, HMS QE are all fitted with it also.

          • You are confused, Ben. This has nothing to do with the fit to potential Aussie T26s.

            Whichever frigate design Australia selects will be getting the CEAFAR, that is an iron-clad condition of getting the contract. And those frigates will be built in Australia.

            This is the UK announcing that they will consider installing CEAFAR on its own ships, as an inducement to Australia signing on to the T26 programme.

            Why on earth would it be an announcement for the UK to say, “We will let you install the CEAFAR on the frigates you will be building, for which we are trying to sell you the design”.

      • None that I’m aware of but as I understand it the decision to make Sampson dual rotating rather than 4 fixed was a known tradeoff of the temporary loss of tracks every rotation (bad) vs lower weight allowing it to be mounted higher thus increasing its radar horizon against low flying threats (good). I have no idea whether that was the right trade of then and whether it is still the right tradeoff now (with attacking missiles getting faster and smarter maybe they have the capability to move further and more unpredictably in the dead time between one array going off track and the other array coming onto track which I suspect could waste valuable time and computer power if those handovers between the arrays become trickier.

        Also as I understand it the thing that the UK is really good at is the back-end processing not necessarily the arrays so I suppose one could imagine some sort of joint project where a lot of the technology from Sampson is retained but fixed array technology comes from CEAFAR. Ultimately though, as others have pointed out, this is only a commitment to evaluate CEAFAR not to actually buy it which is why I personally think it is a fairly meaningless attempted sweetener to try and help the T26 bid.

        If the UK wants to give the message that buying T26 might result in the UK buying some Australian technology in return then I’d like to see them doing a study on Sentient Vision’s VIDAR (http://www.sentientvision.com/products/vidar/) for ScanEagle and/or Schiebel S-100 Camcopter because that is technology that our Border Force could use to augment the cutters and the new Rivers and other RN ships could embark as necessary for tasks such as drug/piracy policing so genuinely could (and should) end up with a UK purchase.

    • Absolutely correct. No-one else will fit Ceafar. All this will do is weaken the UK radar industry. Ceafar could be a great system. But so was betamax.

  2. Its simply carrot and stick negotiating, effectively agreeing to take a look and testing how it can be applied to the T26 which is all work anyway that needs to be done should that ship be sold to them, while dangling the idea that we might just take that further if they oblige without any actual commitment to do so. Its clever tactics with the most likely outcome being if they buy the ships then some cooperative effort can be introduced to offer it to other buyers of the said Frigate design and no doubt some joint work on the radar technologies that can benefit both countries in both sales and technology transfer and ease our reliance on European or American partners. It certainly is an area that the British radar business needs to start advancing anyway for the next generation of active fixed array radars which is somewhat stymied by the quality of the present solutions, so could save time and costs while increasing the impact and market for British/Australian technology wider than is seen presently. Win win for both parties potentially.

    • This is just another fluff piece. Your Minister has also been at the Thales facility in Sydney (sonar). This is all part of the manoeuvring by the UK Government.

      The reality is the Aust Govt will chose the successful design for the SEA 5000 long before the first Type 26 is launched. Your Minister suggests the RAN will be five years behind the UK if it selects the Type 26 hence the design will be less of a risk. Going with either the evolved F100 or FREMM will put us years ahead of the UK in that regard.

      Ceafar will be utilised with Aegis and the SAAB interface in SEA 5000 and I don’t believe any of these are used by the RN.

  3. If an off-the-shelf CEAFAR is cheaper than developing Sampson I can see MoD buying it for an AAW Type 26 variant. Type 45 will need replacing in the 2030s – not too far away at the speed MoD works.

  4. why do folks think that there will be an AAW version of the type 26? By the time the final type 26 is commissioned the platform will be 20 years old. I expect that there will be a new design for AAW destroyer, which will have learned from the type 45/26 and 31e, but it will be its own design not a type 26 derivative

    • It depends on some combination of how technology has moved on, how cash strapped we are at the time, and whether we are still determined to specify high-end capabilities at the expense of numbers.

      If hypersonic missiles abound and laser weapons have matured to the level where they are the only viable defence then I can see the next generation AAW asset looking much more like a Tide Class tanker than a T26 because of the space probably needed for considerable amounts of power storage (batteries, kinetic or whatever) to keep the lasers going for multiple high energy bursts during a saturation attack. If however laser technology doesn’t get to the stage of being good enough to take down hypersonic missiles or whatever the threats of the time are hence we are still looking at missile carriers and the UK is very cash-strapped then I can see a scenario where T26 production continues for an AAW variant.

      At this point who knows what will happen in 2 or 3 decades time.

  5. They buy t26 frigate in return we buy CEAFAR.

    We use it on modernized t45 to replace Sampson and sometime in the distant future it’s fitted to t26 and carriers to replace 997 radars?

    Stranger things have happened.

  6. To be honest, I just don’t see the type 26 winning the contract…. if the design was entering service now and could have been loaned or displayed to the Australians, then i’m Sure it would have had a better chance…. also, they announced recently that the future frigate must also be based around the Aegis system…
    So add in the F100 frigate christobal colon assisting for 4 months with integration and training for the new Hobart AWD and the fact the last time the Spanish assisted with loaning a warship Cantabria, the Australians ordered two… so if I was a betting man, my money would be on the Spanish winning….

  7. This is about a capability study, not about actually putting this radar on British ships. It’s part of the sales pitch to Oz on the T26 – give them a sense of possible follow-on opportunities. UK would never use any radar but their own as they are world leaders in this. Also, I read recently that the CEAFAR radar has only 60 miles radius – that’s pretty low thought they are looking to develop further.

  8. This can only be about the type 26 programme. There is no way with a fixed price of £250 million a hull that the type 31 can fit CEFAR onto its hull. Artisan should be adequate for the type 31.

    • Maybe they are thinking Artisan for the type31 ( pulled from the 23s) and a study on CEFAR being fitted to the 26s, it would seem a strange idea but but if the OZ buy 26s with CEFAR you would imagine there would be some savings around a larger build with commonality.

      • If that did happen then it would be very interesting to see whether the T23 upgrades to Artisan+Sea Ceptor continue across the whole T23 ).fleet because in your scenario only 5 or 6 Artisan would need to be cross-decked from T23 to T31 because T26 would be getting new CEFAR. If the MoD did carry on with putting Artisan on all 13 T2s3 and only building 5 or 6 T31s that would leave 7 or 8 Artisan from decommissioned T23s with nowhere to go unless more T31 are built, they start finding their way onto some RFA vessels, or some other use pops up (make the MCM vessels more multi-role where they needed Artisan?).

        Personally I still think it’s a potentially empty gesture on the UK’s part to try and buddy up with Australia as much as possible to get the T26 order and has a very high chance of turning into nothing more than an evaluation exercise especially if the RAN don’t go with T26.

        • Purely guesswork on my part,i think the Artisan+Sea Ceptor type 23 upgrades will stop at 8 vessels,these will provide for the 8 Type 26’s as you say through cross decking.Lets say the Type 31’s are a success and 5 are built as planned,that leaves me to think maybe another 5 Type 26’s will be built using CEAFAR as per the Australian spec as a counterweight to a successful Australian Type 26 sale.

          • I also think a total of 10 Type 31 are planned. But I see the first batch of 5 as cheap as chips patrol frigates with Terma Scanter radars – which are I believe capable of directing Sea Ceptor. And the second batch as full fat escort frigates with Artisan. The offer to evaluate Ceafar is just a last ditch effort to get the Type 26 contract. If we do get any frigate orders for either Type 26 or Type 31 from the navies of Canada, Brazil, Columbia etc they will probably spec a European radar.

  9. By the mid 2030’s the RN will be down to a single row boat, equipped with mark one eyeballs and a bow, fitted for but not with arrows… The MOD is so cash strapped why waste the money studying CEFAR.

    • I think you may be to optimistic in your assessment.
      It will be a single inflatable dinghy. Being fitted for but not with arrows then being a core design survivability feature to avoid accidentally sinking during peacetime deployments.

  10. The longer term issue is that the UK went for rotating array radar technology which produced Sampson and Artisan. These are excellent radars, impressive, but something of a betamax technology in a world that is converging on fixed face radars. Thales is pursuing development of fixed face radars with Dutch and French support. If we sell Type 26 to Canada they will likely specify a european radar not Artisan.
    Frankly I would prefer to see BAe develop its own fixed face radar offering.


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