The UK Ministry of Defence has entered a £269m deal with Lockheed Martin to start manufacturing of the new Crowsnest system to protect the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers.
The Crowsnest system will deliver long-range air, maritime and land detection, as well as tracking capabilities to the navy’s QEC vessels, which the country’s new F-35 Lightning II jets will fly from.
UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: “Crowsnest will provide a vital intelligence, surveillance and tracking system for our new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, capable of detecting any potential threats at sea.
“Backed by our rising defence budget and £178bn equipment plan, Crowsnest will help keep our Armed Forces safe as they deploy in every ocean around the world for decades to come.”
Crowsnest will be incorporated into Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 helicopters, which perform a wide range of major roles, including detecting submarines and undertaking humanitarian aid duties, as well as assisting with part of the coordinated response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
Under the current deal with Lockheed Martin, Thales UK has been subcontracted to deliver the Crowsnest system.
Work on the system will sustain 200 job opportunities in Crawley, Havant and Yeovil in the UK.
The solution provided by Thales is an advanced and improved version of the Cerberus tactical sensor suite, which is currently deployed on the Royal Navy Sea King Mk7 helicopter.
The design features a single mechanically-scanned radar head that uses an advanced system to offer 360° visibility from the underside of the helicopter.
When not operational, the radar head folds up to the side of the aircraft.
Image: Crowsnest will offer helicopter-borne vital intelligence, surveillance and tracking system for the UK Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. Photo: courtesy of ACA / Crown Copyright.