SOME 400 hi-tech Scottish jobs were secured yesterday with the signing in Edinburgh of a €1 billion (£800 million) contract to develop a new generation of radar for the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Defence electronics firm Selex ES will develop and eventually build the electronic Captor E-Scan radar at its Edinburgh base, where it had been building the current radar for the European fighter jet.
Selex, which is owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica and employs about 1,900 people in Edinburgh, had so far been developing the upgrade through the Euroradar group – of which it is a major contractor.
Yesterday’s deal will allow it to recoup costs and fund the next stage of testing, involving fitting the radar to aircraft and ensuring its software is integrated with the fighter’s navigation and weapons systems.
Andrew Cowdery, chairman of Euroradar, said that individual countries will then be able to decide if they wish to fit their existing Eurofighter fleet with the E-Scan.
He also expects the more advanced radar to make the plane more attractive to potential export customers, helping it to compete with American planes which already have electronic radars and Sweden’s Saab Grippen – which is also fitted out by Selex.
Once testing and integration is completed, the E-Scan is expected to enter production early in the next decade, securing Selex’s manufacturing capability in Scotland.
Cowdery said: “This will support the engineering excellence that we have here and will secure between 300 and 400 jobs in engineering and high technology.”
The E-Scan will be more powerful than its predecessor and will match the capabilities of a new range of armaments being developed for the Eurofighter, including the Meteor air-to-air missile, which has a range of more than 60 miles.
As well as being capable of seeing further, the E-Scan will have a wider field of vision than its mechanically guided predecessor, covering around 200 degrees of sky, while being better at detecting stealthy targets.
It can also move within the nose cone of the Eurofighter, meaning that a missile can be guided against an enemy even as the fighter itself manoeuvres away to safety.
Defence expert Howard Wheeldon said: “This will give the various air forces that use Typhoon, which include the Royal Air Force, superb additional capability that they have long sought.”
The contract was signed in the presence of ministers from the four countries in the Eurofighter consortium.
Philip Dunne, the UK minster for defence equipment, support and technology, claimed the deal would not have been possible had Scotland voted for independence.
“It’s cutting-edge technology that will give battle-winning advantages to the RAF,” he said. “This highly sensitive technology has to be for UK eyes only.”
As part of the latest deal, BAE said it signed a contract worth £365m to integrate the new radar on to the jets.
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