Leonardo Demonstrates Miniaturized Radar Warning Tech

Tempest concept
Credit: BAE Systems

Leonardo says it has successfully tested miniaturized radar warning receiver (RWR) technology as part of its ongoing work to support the UK’s Tempest future combat air system project.

The company says the technology, being developed at its facilities in Luton, England, is four times as accurate as existing sensors at one-tenth the size and has considerably reduced power requirements.

Such RWR sensors, which are fitted to a wide range of military aircraft, are used to sense the presence of enemy radars associated with combat aircraft or ground-based air defense systems and determine whether they are transmitting in surveillance or fire control modes. 

Leonardo says that in the future, enemy radars are likely to use technologies and software to make it harder to identify their signals and locate their source.

In a Dec. 18 statement, the company said the technology had been demonstrated to the UK defense ministry and other partners from the Team Tempest industry consortium, of which Leonardo UK is a member alongside BAE Systems, missile manufacturer MBDA and Rolls-Royce. The small size of the RWR system may make it possible to integrate the sensor into what Leonardo calls a multi-function array, several of which could be distributed around the aircraft to sense and track incoming threats. Leonardo says such a system would be fully integrated with the Tempest’s forward-looking fire-control radar, although no details on that sensor have yet been revealed.

The UK defense ministry has made significant investments in research and development to support the Tempest project, which aims to deliver a cost-effective, next-generation combat aircraft in half the time required to develop the Eurofighter Typhoon. So far only a handful of the approximately 80 technology projects have been made public. One of them is the embedding of an electrical generator into the core of an Adour jet engine, carried out earlier this year. 

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.