The Ministry of Defence say it remains confident that Merlin Mk2 helicopters fitted with the CROWSNEST early warning system will be available to support the first operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2021.
Stephen Morgan, the Shadow Minister for Local Government, asked via a written Parliamentary question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Crowsnest radar system will be operational when the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier deploys.”
James Heappey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, responded:
“The Ministry of Defence remains confident that the Merlin Mk2 helicopter, fitted with the Crowsnest system, will be available to support the first operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2021.”
In 2017, Lockheed Martin was awarded a £269m contract to deliver the Royal Navy’s CROWSNEST Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) programme. As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is responsible for the overall design and development of CROWSNEST, which will provide a vital surveillance capability to support the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.
CROWSNEST uses a high power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities that will ensure early detection of potential threats and vital surveillance for the entire fleet.
This capability will be role fitted onto the Merlin Mk2 helicopters and deployed in support of various Royal Navy vessels including the fleet flagships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Lockheed say that CROWSNEST incorporates an updated version of a Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus Mission System which are deployed as role fit kits along with the Merlin Mk2 helicopters.
This will allow the Royal Navy to adjust the configuration of the airframe depending on the mission.