Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thales delivers First AESA radar for the Rafale F3

Thales RBE-2AA radar would have about 1000 modules
Thales is delivering the first batch of 4 production AESA RBE-2AA this month (2010/08) to Dassault. Those new radar developped for the so called Rafale roadmap program will be fitted on the 60 rafale F3+ ordered for the french air force in december 2009. No retrofit to the 120 first rafale is planed so far.

The RBE-2AA replaces the previous passive RBE-2 antenna (PESA).

The main benefits of the new active antenna are :
  • greater range (up to 50%) matching the meteor range
  • lower sidelobes
  • Better reliability
Moreover it will allow upgrades such as ECM and data link to be directly integrated in the radar.
The current RBE-2AA is using GaAs technology  but more efficient GaN modules are in the pipe for the next major Mid life update of the Rafale. In a recent interview in Aviation Week, Thales head of electronic combat system, Pierre Yves Chatiel, explains that those modules, using the Thales Cloud architecture, could be used as conformal antennas on the aircraft sharing the same aperture as the main antenna. However, this will requiered  between 5 and 10 years of developpement and 1 billion € of funding.

A very interresting document about Thales TRM technology is available here 
Aviation Week article here

Thanks to Arthuro, olybrius and  Kirtap for the sources !

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