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Italy: Too Late for E-scan Radar on Eurofighter (Read 1007 times)
 
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Italy: Too Late for E-scan Radar on Eurofighter
Jun 16th, 2009 at 1:00pm
 
Italy: Too Late for E-scan Radar on Eurofighter
By tom kington
Published: 15 Jun 08:46 EDT (12:46 GMT)

As Eurofighter partners discuss building an e-scan radar for the third tranche of the fighter, a senior Italian official has said the talks are too late and that Italy will stick with the mechanically scanned version for the first of its tranche-three aircraft. "Eurofighter should have started work sooner on an active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar and partners are running late in developing one," said Gen. Giuseppe Bernardis, deputy chief of staff of the Italian Air Force.
The Eurofighters flown today by Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria and the United Kingdom use the mechanically scanned Captor radar, and Italy is likely to place a first order for 20 to 21 third-tranche fighters with that same radar, said Bernardis. "Personally, I am very disappointed we did not start work earlier on an AESA radar for the Eurofighter, as far back as the start of the decade," said Bernardis.
Eurofighter industrial partners have now started work on an e-scan radar for the Eurofighter, but work has been slowed by a lack of funding, they say. Bernardis said he was wary of the possibility of spiraling support costs and even obsolescence of the mechanical radar if partners switch to a new radar. "The Captor is an excellent radar for our mission, and will continue to be, as long as industry guarantees support. I would hate to get a third-tranche Eurofighter with a Captor on it only to hear it is no longer serviceable, while we are meanwhile capable of getting excellent support for the old APG66 radars on our F-16s."
The Italian Air Force views the Eurofighter as primarily an air defense fighter and has long been suspicious of potentially costly upgrades envisaged for the third tranche, which would help the fighter become multirole. Bernardis said Italy did not rule out the use of Eurofighters for air-to-ground missions, "since they have this capability," but viewed them as "a backup" aircraft for the mission, cost permitting, and assuming the ability to use air-to-ground weaponry held in the inventory for other aircraft. "Both for tranche 3 and also tranche 2 aircraft, we expect to have the ability to carry weapons such as the Paveway and [Joint Direct Attack Munition], which will otherwise be carried by Italian Tornadoes and [Joint Strike Fighters]," he said. "We are also looking at having the possibility of placing the Storm Shadow and Small Diameter Bomb on the Eurofighter. "We will not be buying this weaponry for the Typhoon, since we will already own it. Our vision has not changed. And all this of course depends on training budgets," Bernardis said.
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