BAE Systems has provided further reassurance that the Eurofighter Typhoons serving with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF)can fully take over the ground-attack and strike roles from the service’s Tornado fleet, which is due to be retired by March 2019. The company is promising “a seamless transition of capability from Tornado to Typhoon by the end of 2018.” But one key RAF Tornado capability is not scheduled for transfer— the Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for TORnado (RAPTOR)—even though it is currently providing vital imagery over Iraq and Syria to the coalition partners engaged in Operation Inherent Resolve.
The RAF has named the transfer of capabilities from Tornado to Typhoon as Project Centurion, an effort in three phases. Phase One Enhancement (P1E) of the Typhoon has included the integration of Raytheon Paveway IVlaser/GPS-guided bombs. P1E entered service last year, although the BAE statement said that the RAF is now operationally evaluating “further work” to deliver “small improvements” to P1E. This further work “is providing lessons learnt for the forthcoming packages, while achieving the first step on the journey and setting the standard of how the RAF and industry can work effectively together,” said BAE Systems technical manager Paul Ascroft.
Phase Two Enhancements (P2E) include what BAE Systems now describes as “initial integration” of MBDA’s Meteor BVRAAM and Storm Shadow air-to-surface cruise missile. P2E also includes additional human-machine interface (HMI) and availability improvements, according to BAE Systems.
“Final integration” of both weapons is part of P3E, which also includes the MBDA Brimstone 2 close air support weapon. At the Farnborough Airshow last July, BAE Systems flew a Typhoon fitted with Paveway IV, Meteor and Brimstone weapons, but not Storm Shadow. In our report at the show, AIN noted the particular integration challenges for the Typhoon of adding this heavy cruise missile.
The RAPTOR pod is similarly heavy, and is too large to fit on the optimum centerline station of the Typhoon, because of inadequate clearance between the aircraft’s extended undercarriage doors. UTA Aerospace Systems (UTAS) has proposed an adaptation of the Typhoon’s centerline fuel tank to carry a significantly upgraded version of the RAPTOR. UTAS predecessor Goodrich delivered the RAPTOR to the RAF from 2001, and subsequently downsized and sold it as the DB-110 sensor to more than a dozen air forces, mostly for their F-16s.
In the proposed Fast Jet Pod 2 (FJP2) for the Typhoon, UTAS would include the multispectral imagery upgrade that converts the DB-110 to MS-110 configuration, as described by the company to AIN at Farnborough last July. The FJP2 could alternatively house the tactical synthetic aperture radar (TacSAR) that UTAS launched in a joint venture with Leonardo (then Selex Galileo) at the previous Farnborough airshow in 2014.
Original post ainonline.com
Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado, RAPTOR, which is built by the Goodrich Corporation, is a new stand-off electro-optical and infrared (IR), long-range oblique-photography pod fitted to the Tornado GR4.
The RAPTOR system can create images of hundreds of separate targets in one sortie. The stand-off range of the sensors allows the aircraft to remain outside heavily-defended areas to minimise its exposure to enemy air-defence systems.
The images received by the pod can be transmitted via a real-time data-link system to image analysts at a ground station, or can be displayed in the cockpit during flight. The imagery can also be recorded for post-flight analysis. The RAPTOR system can create images of hundreds of separate targets in one sortie; it is capable of autonomous operation against preplanned targets, or it can be re-tasked manually for targets of opportunity or to select a different route to the target. The stand-off range of the sensors allows the aircraft to remain outside heavily-defended areas, to minimise the aircraft’s exposure to enemy air-defence systems.
The RAPTOR pod contains a dual-band (visible and IR) sensor, which is capable of detecting and identifying small targets from either short range or long range and from medium or high altitudes, by day or by night. The optical sensors gather high-resolution, motion-free images of extraordinary detail. The optical images are supported by IR imagery that can reveal differences in the shape, composition or content of objects from their thermal signatures. Daytime IR also offers superior haze-penetration in poor weather conditions, while the night time imagery can reveal details such as the fuel levels in storage tanks. The aircraft weapon systems officer controls the RAPTOR system using a real-time cockpit video display, enabling verification of target acquisition, and the conduct of tasks such as battle-damage assessment, or recording the images on digital tape for further in-depth, post-operation analysis. Source raf.mod.uk
The Goodrich DB-110 is a compact, day/night, two-axis stabilized, real-time, tactical reconnaissance pod system suitable for installation aboard fighter aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon. This observation system has been designed for operations at medium and high altitude (10,000- to 80,000-ft) and low subsonic and supersonic speed (0.1 to 1.6 Mach) delivering high resolution infrared and visible bands imagery at extremely long ranges. Source deagel.com