Thursday, December 3, 2009

IAI, EADS discuss adapting A320 for airborne early warning

Israel Aerospace Industries and EADS are in advanced discussions on teaming up to offer an airborne early warning system installed on a member of the Airbus A320 family, an IAI official says. The discussions come after a series of overtures by IAI to adapt Elta Systems' conformal AEW technology to the A320 family.

EADS's Military Aircraft division previously rejected the concept, says Baruch Reshef, deputy director of Elta's group marketing and sales division. But its attitude has recently changed. "They are in favour of co-operation if we can find solutions that fit their platforms," he says.

IAI and EADS officials see a huge market opportunity for AEW technology, Reshef says, amounting to more than $10 billion over the next five years. IAI expects that an A320-based system could capture 30-40% of the market share, he says.

The first such A320 AEW platform could be available for service entry within three to four years of a contract award, Reshef says. The installation process "would be quite short in comparison to other programmes", he adds.

If both sides agree, IAI would help expand Airbus's portfolio of military offerings, which include the A330-based multirole tanker transport, A400M airlifter and a previous offer to provide adapted A320s for NATO's alliance ground surveillance programme - a capability which has subsequently been narrowed to include only unmanned aircraft. IAI would also gain a new platform for its conformal AEW technology, already installed on the Gulfstream G550 business jet for Israel and Singapore.

EADS declined to comment on the report, following a request from Flight International.

An A320-based system would join other Western market offerings in the airborne early warning and control segment, which include the Boeing 737, Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and Saab Microwave Systems' Erieye radar, which has so far been integrated with the Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet and Saab 340 and Saab 2000 turboprops.

IAI's Phalcon series of AEW radars began with the EL/M-2075 L-band electronically scanned array, first installed on the Boeing 707 for Israel and Chile. India has also acquired the radar for installation on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport.


Israel seems to have an insatiable quest for AEW&C: from 707 to Hawkeye to Phalcon to G550, and now, A320.

Guess that they really understand the value of networking.

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