NEUILLY, France: Thales announced today that its RBE2 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar has successfully completed a new series of tests on the Rafale at the Cazaux flight test centre in Southwest France from February to March.

These tests, carried out jointly by Thales and the French defence procurement agency (DGA), provided functional validation of the radar’s operating modes.

This milestone marks the latest step towards qualifying the RBE2 AESA radars this year in readiness for delivery of the first two units to Dassault Aviation during the first quarter of 2010. The radars will be installed on the aircraft in 2011 for delivery to the French Air Force early in 2012.

The successful tests are the latest in a long line of key milestones. Thales began developing an AESA radar demonstrator in the 1990s and conducted exploratory tests at the flight test centre in 2002 and 2003 to refine the concept. In 2004, the French defence procurement agency DGA backed the project with a contract to develop a prototype of an operational active-module radar.

At the end of 2006, Thales completed its first active phased array, comprising some 1,000 gallium-arsenide T/R modules manufactured by European firm United Monolithic Semiconductors (UMS).

The active phased array, which replaces the passive array in the RBE2 currently operating on the Rafale, offers many advantages:

  • range extended by over 50% for future compatibility with new weapon systems like Meteor;
  • higher module reliability for reduced cost of ownership (no array overhaul required for 10 years)
  • waveform agility for high-resolution synthetic aperture (SAR) imagery in air-to-ground mode and better resistance to jamming.

Pierre-Yves Chaltiel, Senior Vice President in charge of Thales’s Aerospace Solutions for Governments Sector, commented on the achievement of this new milestone: “The success of this latest series of tests on the RBE2 AESA radar consolidates Thales’s European leadership position. Moreover, it will help to affirm the Rafale’s technological superiority as the omnirole aircraft performs flight demonstrations for potential export customers, confirming its excellent performance as it has recently in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.”

Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, addressing Defence, Aerospace and Security markets worldwide. The Group’s civil and military businesses develop in parallel and share a common base of technologies to serve a single objective: the security of people, property and nations.

Thales’s leading-edge technology is supported by 22,500 R&D engineers who offer a capability unmatched in Europe to develop and deploy field-proven mission-critical information systems. The Group builds its growth on its unique multi-domestic strategy based on trusted partnerships with national customers and market players, while leveraging its global expertise to support local technology and industrial development. Thales employs 68,000 people in 50 countries with 2008 revenues of EUR 12.7 billion.