As part of the Advanced Radar Targeting System (ARTS) programme, the UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a contract to QinetiQ to demonstrate the advanced targeting capability offered by Electronically Scanned (E-Scan) radar technology. The company has teamed with SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems and BAE Systems Customer Solutions and Support to integrate an Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) on a Tornado GR4A for assessment by the RAF in 2007.

With growing interest in extending the in-service life of the GR4, the project will explore the use of AESA and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) in an air-to-surface role, including real-time target imaging, with a view to replacing the installed mechanically scanned terrain following/ground mapping radar system originally designed in the 1970s.

The contract was placed by the Defence Procurement Agency’s (DPA) Sensors, Avionics, Navigation and Air Electronic Warfare Integrated Project Team on behalf of the MoD’s Research Acquisition Organisation, as part of the Output 6 Research Programme sponsored by the DPA’s Future Business Group. ARTS will also be supported by the Defence Logistic Organisation’s Tornado IPT, while the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory will provide the MoD with independent technical advice on the programme.

ARTS benefits from a range of MoD and UK industry funded research programmes in the fields of AESA and SAR technologies, and will provide a continuing route for the rapid exploitation of future research and development. Furthermore, ARTS will run in parallel with the multi-national Advanced Multi-Mode Solid-State Airborne Radar (AMSAR) programmes and will focus on specific areas of capability development (SAR and Automatic Target Recognition). It will also focus on platform integration and aims to raise System Readiness Levels.