DSEI 2011

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Searchwater radar aimed at Merlin

By: David Donald Published: 15 Sep 2011

Mounted in the Royal Navy’s Sea King Mk 7, Thales’s Searchwater 2000 radar and Cerberus mission system have been performing impressively in the Afghan theatre, where it has recently flown its 1,000th mission.

As the question of providing a follow-on to the Sea King is debated under the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) requirement, Thales is suggesting that the cheapest, lowest-risk option is to take the system as it stands and install it in a more modern platform.

A likely candidate for MASC is the AgustaWestland Merlin, but the Royal Navy’s Merlins do not have a rear ramp. Thales has devised a side-mounting ‘elevator’ system, with the radar being raised and lowered along two supporting rails.

Searchwater 2000 has a mechanically scanned antenna that offers superb performance. The company believes an electronically steered phased array would, for the time being at least, entail a drop in performance, either in terms of range or its ability to perform 360° search. Thales, of course, has considerable phasedarray expertise, and could offer this if required.