Correction: A previous headline for this story misidentified the U.S. dollar value of the upgrade deal, which is $2.78 billion.
LONDON — Britain’s Defence Ministry has made a deal with industry to upgrade Royal Air Force Typhoon jets with a new active electronically scanned array radar and other new technologies, Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin announced Friday.
Installation of the European Common Radar System Mk 2 is part of a £2.35 billion (U.S. $2.78 billion) investment to enhance Typhoon capabilities, which Quin discussed at the opening of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. The aircraft currently operates with a mechanically scanned radar.
Known as the Phased 4 Enhancement, the package is set to deliver a range of critical upgrades in the same time frame as the ECRS Mk 2. The P4E will include a new mission-management and cockpit interface, upgrades that provide additional resilience for GPS and enhanced navigational precision, and protection against electronic interference.
The British arm of Leonardo along with UK Typhoon program lead BAE Systems, Meggitt and II-VI Inc. are involved in the radar’s development and integration. The program is expected to sustain 1,300 engineering jobs across the country.
The P4E upgrades will be delivered across the U.K.’s tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons. A fleet of 30 tranche 1 jets is scheduled for retirement in 2025 and will not receive upgrades.
For the moment, the ECRS Mk 2 hardware is only slated for installation on 40 tranche 3 aircraft. Extending the radar to some, or all, of the 67 tranche 2 jets still remains a possibility. No move toward that decision has been taken, but an increase in numbers remains under consideration.
Quin said the upgrade will enable further capability enhancements and feed technology into the Tempest sixth-generation fighter — a future combat air system in the early stages of development.
“These technological enhancements will maintain the cutting-edge capabilities of Eurofighter Typhoon and help underpin the development path towards the Future Combat Air System,” he said. “The work also ensures the aircraft can integrate additional capabilities and weapons later in the decade to counter emerging threats until 2040 and beyond.”
Until now, BAE and Leonardo UK were developing the Mk 2 radar with funds from a £317 million deal signed with the British government in 2020 to only prepare the system for integration on the Typhoon.
At a May briefing with reporters, industry officials said the radar’s development was on track, with a prototype ECRS Mk 2 to be delivered to BAE System’s Warton site later this year ahead of integration and flight trials. An initial operating capability covering the radar, training, infrastructure and other requirements is set for 2030, they said at the time.
The Defence Ministry said in a statement Friday that the new radar’s delivery will take place toward the end of the decade.
A less capable Mk 1 version is set for delivery to Typhoon program partners Germany and Spain.
Italy is looking to join the British development effort, and the two nations have already formed a joint industrial team as a possible initial step toward full participation by Rome.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.