The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Lockheed Martin have selected Thales to deliver the radar and mission system for the UK Royal Navy.
This is part of a contract that the MoD awarded to Lockheed Martin to design develop and demonstrate the Crowsnest airborne command and control system for the UK’s future aircraft carrier capability.
The project is aimed to provide the navy with long-range air, maritime and land detection capabilities, as well as the ability to track potential threats.
With the new product, the navy will be able to replace the Sea King helicopter’s airborne surveillance and control capability.
UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: "It is essential that our ships and particularly our future aircraft carriers will have the best possible protection.
"The Crowsnest system onboard our new Merlin Mk2 helicopter will deliver an essential surveillance and intelligence capability, providing early warnings to our personnel of any potential threats."
The Merlin Mk2 helicopters are currently undertaking various functions, including anti-submarine warfare and humanitarian duties.
The Thales solution is an updated version of the Cerberus tactical sensor suite that is currently in service on the Sea King Mk7 helicopter.
The design features a single mechanically scanned radar head which uses an innovative system to offer 360o visibility from the underside of the helicopter.
With this new development, Lockheed Martin UK will now conclude the project’s £27m assessment phase.
As part of the UK’s future aircraft carrier capability, Crowsnest will be an integral part of future carrier operations, delivering to two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, and fifth generation Lightning II fast jets.
The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, are expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Image: Computer-generated image of a Merlin Mk2 with the Crowsnest surveillance system fitted to the side of the helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Thales.