French Plan EW UAV
Sources suggest that the French Ministry of Defense has awarded French contractor Sagem SA a contract covering the supply of sufficient Crecerelle (Kestrel) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to form a UAV communications-jamming platoon within the French Army. The Crecerelle entered service with the French Army (as a surveillance tool) during 1995 and was deployed to Bosnia during November/December of the same year. In terms of a payload for the new Crecerelle variant, French contractor Thomson-CSF Detexis is known to have worked on a UAV communications- jamming payload in the recent past. Thomson announced during mid-1994 that it was developing a range of potential UAV payloads under the generic designation Multi-mission Drone System (MDS). Amongst other MDS subsystems, Thomson looked at a “communications electronic warfare system” that comprised jamming, electronic-support and radio-relay modules. The last of these featured a frequency-hopping radio link to facilitate long-range operations.
Spain Launches Search for T/N Pod
“European Report” understands that Spain is about to launch an acquisition program to procure up to 24 Targeting and Navigation (T/N) pods for use on its fleet of EF-18 Hornet fighter-bombers. An earlier effort to update the type’s existing AN/AAS-38 NITE Hawk systems appears to have been abandoned on cost grounds. At press time, Lockheed Martin’s Pantera equipment was being touted as a possible contender for the program. Analysts are also suggesting that whatever T/N system Spain acquires for its EF-18 fleet will also be used on the 87 Eurofighter Typhoon next-generation, multirole combat aircraft it has on order. Within the Eurofighter consortium, consideration is being given to integrating a number of T/N pod options to facilitate differing requirements amongst the four partner nations (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) and to maximize the options available to potential export customers. The importance of the Spanish decision appears to be further enhanced by the suggestion that Italy is likely to follow Spain’s lead when it comes to deciding on T/N pod provision for its Typhoon aircraft.
Danish Firm Lands RAAF EWMS Order
“European Report” understands that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has awarded Danish contractor TERMA Elektronik a $4.2-million contract covering the supply of the company’s Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS), officially designated the AN/ALQ-213(V) in the US, for use aboard its F-111C strike aircraft. Forming part of an interim defensive-aids upgrade, the F-111C EWMS application will tie together the aircraft’s AN/ALR-62 radar warning receiver, a countermeasures-dispensing system and Elta EL/L-8222 jamming pod into a single control architecture. The noted EL/L-8222 radar jammer is being acquired in a separate $30-million program that involves Australian company Vision Abell acting as Elta’s in-country subcontractor. Alongside this latest application, EWMS/ALQ-213(V) systems are known to have been supplied to the air forces of the US, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.
Study of “Flight Leader” Rafale Option Underway
French aerospace contractor Dassault is understood to be assessing whether its two-seat Rafale B fourth-generation, multi-role combat aircraft can be used as a flight leader (FL) for unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). Such an FL Rafale is seen as having applications in the suppression of enemy air defenses, strike, armed reconnaissance and anti-shipping roles. Modification to the Rafale B might include the introduction of a dedicated UCAV control datalink, an increase in onboard-processing capacity, a modified man-machine interface (MMI) in the rear cockpit and what is termed as an “extended” data-fusion capability. Of these, the new MMI could feature two additional displays capable of receiving and displaying UCAV data while the capability as a whole is being seen as a command rather than control tool, with the FL aircraft being used to transmit operational instructions to otherwise autonomous UCAVs. In addition to communicating with its drone “flock,” the FL platform would be expected to be able to communicate with other airborne command-and-control assets (such as the E-3 AWACS and E-8 Joint STARS aircraft) via a dedicated over-the-horizon datalink.