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On November 29th, the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag made available the funds from the Bundeswehr special fund with which 15 Eurofighters can be converted into Eurofighter EK. With the capability for electronic combat, the Eurofighter EK can replace the Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance) in the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) role. The necessary certification by NATO should take place by 2030. The financial volume is estimated at 384 million euros.

“Electronic warfare and reconnaissance are an important NATO requirement. Current conflicts and the current security situation show how important the two capabilities are,” says Airbus Defense and Space CEO Michael Schöllhorn. “In this respect, the Federal Government’s decision to include such an important capability as electronic warfare in the Eurofighter capability portfolio is an important measure. EK will add this important capability to the Eurofighter’s already broad operational spectrum, while strengthening European sovereignty and autonomy.”

15 Eurofighter sollen für die Ablösung der Tornado ECR umgerüstet werden. (Foto: Airbus)

According to Airbus, the key features of the Eurofighter EK are the transmitter positioning system from Saab (ESuTreported) and Northrop Grumman's Anti Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), which enable the aircraft to detect, locate and defeat anti-aircraft radars. The Saab solution also has jammers that improve the Eurofighter's self-protection. In addition, numerous technologies developed by small and medium-sized companies and a start-up will be installed. This includes Helsing's AI solution, which makes it possible to analyze captured radar data on-board and quickly determine precise self-protection measures.

AARGM missiles have already been introduced into the Bundeswehr as armament for the Tornado. The upgrade to the latest version should be completed by 2025 (ESuTreported). Die etwa 350 kg schweren Raketen sind rund 4,1 Meter lang und werden von einem Feststoff-Raketenmotor auf über 2.200 km/h (ca. Mach 1,84) beschleunigt. Sie tragen einen Spreng-/Splitter-Gefechtskopf mit mehr als 60 kg Explosivmasse. Die neue Version erhielt eine modernisierte Softwareversion sowie einen zusätzlichen aktiven Millimeterwellen-Sucher, mit denen feindliche Radaranlagen effizienter erkannt und bekämpft werden können.

Diehl Defense has entered into an exclusive cooperation agreement with the US company Orbital ATK (now a business unit of Northrop Grumman) for the marketing and production of the modern anti-radar guided missile in Germany. Afterwards, Diehl will take over significant parts of the work in Germany with regard to production and service provision.

A transmitter positioning system with AI functions, anti-radar missiles and a 360° self-protection system are the most important features of the Eurofighter EK (Photo: Airbus)

According to Airbus, Airbus is currently working with the BAAINBw procurement office, the Air Force and the Bundeswehr Aviation Office on a detailed schedule for the implementation of the selected EK solutions in 15 Eurofighters.

According to Airbus, the corresponding contract between Eurofighter GmbH as general contractor and NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency) should be signed before the end of the year. The current budget freeze does not apply to the special fund, as the BMVg made clear on November 23rd (ESuTreported).

Gerhard Heiming