Airbus Military has teamed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to offer a fast-rotating, active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on the C-295 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft.

The C-295AEW’s rotodome S-band radar offers a rotating mode for 360-deg. coverage with three-dimensional electronic beam steering. It also has a sector mode to more closely examine a certain area with the radar stationary. S-band was chosen to maximize radar performance from the rotodome, which has a diameter of 6 meters (20 ft.).

The rotating system was chosen to reduce cost compared with, for instance, the Gulfstream G550-based AEW aircraft that IAI offers. The cost is to be about half that of higher-end systems.

Naval surveillance also is possible using the inverse synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes with the optional Elta EL/M-2022 multimode radar that would be mounted under the fuselage.

The combination of air-to-air capability and air-to-surface functionality on one platform is seen as a particular selling point for coast guard or homeland security applications.

The radar is Elta’s fourth-generation AESA, says Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager in Elta’s AEW division. The rotation rate of the dome is double that of traditional rotodome-housed systems, while also performing electronic scanning to track highly maneuvering targets, he says. The system has built in automatic compensation for banking, as well as separate radar and identification friend-or-foe arrays.

Airbus first flew a prototype of the C-295AEW last month. Flight trials without the sensor system but with the rotodome are to run a few months. An operational system could be offered soon, says Fernando Ciria, Airbus Military’s project lead. The mission system will be Airbus Military’s fully integrated tactical system. Ciria says the aircraft will have a full self-protection suite.

The suite also has a full signals-intelligence suite for electronic intelligence and communications intelligence, as well as the ability to pinpoint static and slow-moving emitters.

The system is to offer 8-hr. endurance at a 200-nm mission range flying at 20,000-24,000 ft. Inflight refueling also is possible.

Nissam Hadas, president of IAI’s Elta unit, says there is already interest “from several customers.” Moreover, he notes that for Elta this agreement represents a “strategic cooperation” that he expects to extend to other activities.

The system is not just intended for defense missions, but also homeland security.