Leonardo has delivered the first ECRS Mk2 (European Common Radar System Mk2) prototype to BAE Systems, marking another significant step in the ongoing development program for the UK Typhoon fleet.

The RAF announced in July 2022 that the Typhoon would be integrating the ECRS Mk 2 radars, allowing the jet to simultaneously detect, identify and track various targets on land and at sea. The UK Ministry of Defence awarded the contract to deliver these radars in a £317m contract to Italian company Leonardo and British BAE Systems.

Leonardo is developing the ECRS Mk2 at its Edinburgh site, the UK’s home of combat air radar, and Luton, where the company conducts advanced electronic warfare research, development and production.

Following the delivery of the prototype, the radar will undergo integration work and ground-based testing in preparation for its first flight tests on board the Typhoon next year. These tests will occur at BAE Systems’ flight-testing facility in Lancashire, UK.

In addition to their partnership to deliver the ECRS Mk2, Leonardo UK and BAE Systems are also core members of the UK’s team to deliver the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), a partnership between the UK, Italy, and Japan.

The GCAP development project is starting to speed up, with the UK MoD also announcing last week that it is allocating £656m for the future fighter jet programme.

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The firms’ involvement in both programmes will create opportunities to develop technology and skills from the ECRS Mk2 into the GCAP platform’s suite of advanced electronics and vice versa, de-risking and accelerating both programmes.

The ECRS Mk2 features a multi-functional array (MFA) that can perform traditional radar functions, such as search and targeting and electronic warfare tasks.

This means that the Typhoon fighter jet will be able to locate and deny the use of an adversary’s radar with a powerful electronic jamming attack while staying beyond the reach of threats. The ECRS Mk2’s development is collaborative between Leonardo and BAE Systems, two of the UK’s leading defence contractors.

Advantage over its adversaries

Mark Stead, SVP of Radar & Advanced Targeting, Leonardo UK, said: “This delivery marks the next major step towards securing Typhoon’s place in the future battlespace, ensuring that the UK retains the freedom to deliver air power wherever and whenever it is needed.

“The ECRS Mk2 will equip RAF pilots to locate, identify and suppress enemy air defences, a powerful combination of capabilities that will increase the GCAP’s Typhoon’s lethality and survivability, and the survivability of other friendly forces.”

With a view to the future adoption of the ECRS Mk2, engineers from Leonardo’s Nerviano, a Milan-based radar site, have joined the team in Edinburgh. This collaboration will enable acquisition system design capabilities to ensure that the Italian MoD has sovereign control over the new radar system at every stage of its operational life.

BAE Systems reported a 4.4% increase in sales for the fiscal year 2022. The company reported sales of £23.3bn for the fiscal year of 2022, an increase from £21.3bn in 2021.