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I P A R I S 9 9

T h e RBE2 bre aks n e w groun d in providin g th e Rafale w ith a true multirole capability
R B E 2 r a d a r
g e t s a h e a d
Th e R B E 2 ra d a r - a
E urope a n pione e r - is
s e t t o be a mong t h e
fir s t a ir bor ne mult ir ole
e le ct r onica lly s ca nne d
r a d a r s in t h e wor ld t o
be int r od uce d int o
s e r vice
' HE RAFALE'S RBE2 {radarat
e le ctron ique /2) multirole electronic scan-
ning radar is the first of its type to be
developed in Europe and will be one of the
first in the world to enter service.
The RBE2 was developed jointly between
Thomson ROM and Dassault Electronique,
the two having been merged in 1998 and
renamed Thomson-CSF Detexis. The former
was responsible for the RDI and RDY radars
developed for the air defence/interceptor
Mirage 2000C and 2000-5, while Dassault
Electronique developed the Antilope radar for
the ground attack Mirage 2000N and 2000D.
"Combining the expertise of the two companies
therefore bought togeth-
er the abilities needed to
develop a true air-to-air,
air-to-ground and air-to-
sea multimode radar,"
says Jacques Mijonnet,
vice-president and chief
operating officer of
Thomson Detexis.
Development of the
initial version of the radar
started in mid-1989, and
series production is about
to begin. This will be
mainly capable of air-to-
air operations, but will
have some air-ground
capability. Funding for
development of the more
advanced standard that
will be applied to F2
Rafales was approved at
the beginning of this
year, with first deliveries
set for 2 003 . This version
will have full air-ground
capability, including
"some terrain following"
ability, and enhance-
ments to the air-to-air
mode. The F3 version,
still unfunded, will pro-
vide improved terrain following at lower alti-
tude, along with air-to-surface and nuclear
warfare functions.
The RBE2 development challenge, recalls
Mijonnet, "was to develop an electronically
scanned antenna at an acceptable cost". This
meant using solid state technology that was
both affordable and met the extremely demand-
ing performance specifications. Besides the
multimode capability this included ensuring die
radar was resistant to electromagnetic spikes
from nuclear blasts as well as being able to with-
stand the shock of a carrier landing. The radar
also had to be 3 0% lighter than that of the
Mirage 2000-5 and occupy half the volume.
"We have achieved this," says Mijonnet.
The RBE2 consists of six line-replaceable
subassemblies: frequency generator/receiver,
responsible for microwave emission and signal
reception and for converting analogue signals
to digital; amplifier; signal and data processor
(responsible also for real-time management of
functions and dialogue with the Rafale arma-
ments system); the support structure; the scan-
ning electronic antenna, plus microwave
receptor and, finally, the radome.
The heart of the radar is the passive, phased
array antenna which uses Thomson-CSF
Detexis' RAD ANT design featuring two solid
state electronically controlled "lenses" working
in the vertical and horizontal planes, each con-
taining around 25,000 diodes. In between the
lenses is a polarising filter, enabling extremely
accurate, instantaneous vertical or horizontal
92 FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL 9 - 15 June 1999