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Advanced £870 million radar contract sustains 600 UK engineering jobs

RAF Typhoon fighter jets are to be equipped with one of the world’s most advanced radar.

Supporting the Government’s priority to grow the economy, this contract sustains 600 UK engineering jobs in Edinburgh, Luton and Lancashire. An £870 million five-year contract has been awarded to BAE Systems and Leonardo UK to upgrade radar capabilities on the RAF Typhoon, fitting the fighter jets with one of the world’s most advanced radars – the European Common Radar System (ECRS) Mk2.

Illustration showing where the radar will sit in the nose of the Typhoon

Following last year’s announcement at the 2022 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), in which Defence committed to a £2.35 billion investment to several upgrades for Typhoon, this is the first contract allocated from that major and complex investment and will see the completion of the development and integration of the ECRS Mk2.

Close up view of the new radar

The state-of-the-art radar will transform the Typhoon’s control of the air, bringing a world-leading electronic warfare capability which will allow the aircraft to simultaneously detect, identify, and track multiple targets in the air and on the ground. ECRS Mk2 will be integrated onto RAF Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft and offered to other nations that operate the aircraft, boosting UK defence exports.

Typhoon in the hangar, ready for maintenance. Radar in the foreground

Supporting the Government’s priority to grow the economy, the £2.35 billion programme sustains around 1,300 UK engineering job over the next 10 years. With the £870 million contract making up more than 600 highly skilled jobs across the country, including 300 at Leonardo's site in Edinburgh, 100 electronic warfare specialists at the company’s site in Luton, and 120 engineers at BAE Systems' site in Lancashire.

“The RAF Typhoon is one of the most mission ready and capable aircraft anywhere in the world helping protect our skies at home and abroad. This £870 million contract award is an investment in the future readiness and preparedness of our fighter jets, so that we can continue to showcase our world-leading air capability.”

James Cartlidge
Minister for Defence Procurement

ECRS Mk2 will support operations in the most challenging situations, equipping pilots with the ability to suppress enemy air defences using high-powered jamming and to engage targets whilst beyond the reach of threats. 

A prototype of the state-of-the-art radar is currently undergoing specialist testing at BAE Systems site in Warton, Lancashire.  This contract builds on that solid foundation, progressively turning that prototype equipment into a capability; a path that includes initial flight testing in 2024. 

As well as delivering ECRS Mk2, the overall £2.35 billion investment includes the integration of the new radar onto Typhoon and delivery of a range of additional complementary upgrades and which together ensures Typhoon will continue to remain a potent weapons capability and enable it to counter emerging threats until 2040 and beyond.  

“Typhoon is the backbone of UK Combat Air, capable of completing a wide range of Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface missions. ECRSMk2 will ensure Typhoon remains operationally effective in the future force mix in an ever increasing contested environment.”

Gp Capt Matt D’Aubyn
DACOS Control of the Air, Typhoon Programme Director

“This is the first of a number of contracts that will continue our journey to equip the RAF with the edge to protect our nation. Developing ECRS Mk2 not only provides cutting-edge capability but crucially, also ensures that advanced technical skills and expertise in delivering complex sensors are available to support the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) right here in the UK.”

Vice Admiral Rick Thompson
DE&S Director General Air

“The continued evolution of Typhoon as a world-class combat air platform ensures that the RAF maintains its advantage and protects the vibrant eco-system that supports our sovereign combat air capability in the UK, through sustaining and evolving the technical skills that are central to the UK’s future combat air strategy.”

Andrea Thompson
Managing Director – Europe & International, BAE Systems Air

The radar is a prime example of the UK’s world-leading onshore technology, being developed by Leonardo UK in Edinburgh and Luton and integrated by BAE Systems in Warton.

The Typhoon programme supports more than 20,000 jobs across all regions of the UK every year, contributing £1.4 billion to the economy annually.