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Germany to use Saab’s Arexis on Eurofighter electronic warfare variant

The German Air Force is planning to replace its ageing fleet of Tornado ECR aircraft with a new variant of the Eurofighter Typhoon that will have enhanced electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. The Eurofighter EK (Elektronischer Kampf) will be equipped with Saab’s Arexis EW suite, which is already in use on the Gripen E fighter.

Arexis is a family of EW systems that includes electronic attack (EA), electronic support (ES), and electronic protection (EP) functions. It uses gallium nitride (GaN) active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology to provide high power output, wide frequency coverage, and low latency. Arexis can detect, identify, locate, and jam a wide range of radar threats, as well as provide situational awareness and self-protection for the aircraft.

Saab has been providing EW equipment for the Tornado ECR since 1999 when it delivered the BOZ-101 EC pod, which houses a radar warning receiver (RWR), a missile approach warner (MAW), and a chaff/flare dispenser. In 2018, Saab upgraded the pod with a digital RWR and a digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammer. The DRFM jammer can record and replay radar signals with modifications to deceive or confuse enemy radars.

Saab claims that Arexis is a “perfect fit” for the Eurofighter EK, as it can be packaged into different shapes and forms to suit the aircraft’s configuration. One option is to integrate Arexis into wingtip pods, similar to the EAJP (Electronic Attack Jammer Pod) that Saab developed for the Gripen E. The EAJP is designed to complement the built-in EW systems on the Gripen E and provide an EA capability similar to the Boeing EA-18G Growler.

Another option is to integrate Arexis into conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), which are mounted on the fuselage of the Eurofighter Typhoon. This would provide more internal space for the EW equipment and reduce drag and weight compared to external pods. Saab has already demonstrated this concept with a mock-up of a CFT with an embedded AESA antenna at the DSEI 2019 exhibition in London.

The Eurofighter EK is expected to enter service in 2025, following a development contract that Airbus Defence and Space signed with Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in November 2019. The contract covers the adaptation of 110 Eurofighter Typhoons to the new EK configuration, as well as the procurement of 38 new aircraft.

The Eurofighter EK will be able to perform both suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) and destruction of enemy air defences (DEAD) missions, using a combination of EW and kinetic weapons. The aircraft will also be able to support other platforms in a networked environment, using its advanced sensors and data links. The Eurofighter EK will enhance Germany’s ability to conduct air operations in contested and denied airspace, as well as contribute to NATO’s collective defence.

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