The high-tech radar modules from EADS Defence & Security (DS) for the Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) of the German-Italian-American Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) have passed all required acceptance tests with margin. This test success has now paved the way for integration into the first of three prototypes.
Defence Electronics (DE), an integrated activity of DS, has completed production of more than 10,000 transmit/receive (T/R) modules. They are core elements of the radar antenna and have been delivered for integration into the first radar prototype. DE’s T/R modules are the only ones in Europe which are certified in accordance with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard – as is the clean room production facility “Microwave Factory” at the company’s Ulm location.
This positions DS as the premier European company in production of core components of the new AESA radar with electronic beam scanning (AESA = Active Electronically Scanned Array) on an industrial scale. In view of this, the MEADS programme is playing a leading strategic role in the deployment of AESA technology.
“The high demands placed on the MEADS radar can’t be met without AESA technology,” explains Bernd Wenzler, CEO of Defence Electronics. “Thanks to our combined efforts within EADS Defence & Security, we have achieved a high degree of technological maturity, enabling us to supply the member states with tens of thousands of qualified modules in a short period of time.” Defence Electronics has thus laid the foundation for a successful series production of the T/R modules for MEADS.
During the Design and Development phase, Defence Electronics will produce thousands of additional T/R modules, including the associated control electronics, in accordance with a contract worth approximately 120 million Euros. These make the MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar the most powerful radar system of its type in the world. The T/R modules are the key components of the new generation radars, based on AESA technology. These modules have been combined by Defence Electronics in the product family SMTR® (Standard T/R Modules) which may be used in various programmes with only slight individual adaptations being required. For example, DE’s T/R modules or technologies are used in the TerraSAR space radar, in the German Armed Forces’ ground surveillance radar BÜR and in the Eurofighter’s E-Captor radar. This means that they have already proven their production maturity several times.
AESA radars use electronic beam scanning, which is based on thousands of T/R modules. This concept offers completely new possibilities for deployment. To ensure the success of the MEADS programme, DS employees from the business units Defence Electronics, Defence and Communications Systems and LFK are collaborating closely. The overall responsibility for the radar antenna is borne by LFK GmbH / MBDA Germany.
MEADS is a mobile Air and Missile Defense System that will incorporate the hit-to-kill PAC-3 MSE Missile in a system that includes 360-degree surveillance and fire control sensors, netted-distributed battle management/communication centers and high-firepower launchers. It will provide an open architecture for 21st century air and missile defense system-of-system integration capabilities that allow operational mission-tailoring. MEADS will also provide greater firepower with less manpower than current systems, producing dramatic operation and support cost savings.
In May 2005, MEADS International signed a definitized contract valued at $2 billion plus €1.4 billion for MEADS design and development. A multinational joint venture headquartered in Orlando, FL, MEADS International’s participating companies are MBDA in Italy, LFK in Germany and Lockheed Martin in the United States. The MEADS program is a closely watched model for collaborative transatlantic development of advanced defense systems. Working together to solve a critical global security need, over 1900 American, German, and Italian personnel are directly involved in the MEADS contractor effort. The United States funds 58 percent of the MEADS program, and European partners Germany and Italy provide 25 percent and 17 percent respectively. The NAMEADSMA program management agency is located in Huntsville, Alabama.