Today's announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence, confirming the selection of British Aerospace (BAe) as prime contractor for the Replacement Maritime Patrol Aircraft (RMPA) programme also included the selection of the Racal Searchwater 2000MR (Maritime Reconnaissance) as the search radar - the primary sensor and a vital part of the aircraft's improved mission effectiveness. The value of the contract to Racal is ultimately expected to be in the region of £60 million.
The existing Searchwater radar is regarded as the best performing maritime surveillance radar in the world and Racal is delighted that the new Searchwater 2000MR variant has been selected following detailed evaluation by the MoD, BAe and its mission system integrator. It ensures the continuation of the highly successful Searchwater family of radars which have been in service with the RAF Nimrod Maritime Reconnaisance aircraft for the last 30 years.
Barton Clarke, chairman of the Racal Defence Radar and Avionics Group, commented: "This selection is extremely important for Racal as it provides work for a highly skilled team of engineers based in Crawley, Leicester and Linlithgow. It also ensures that the UK continues to be the leading European nation in maritime surveillance radar which will result in significant export opportunities."
This selection supports the long term investment by MoD agencies and the company in maintaining a world leading maritime surveillance capability in the UK, based on a proven in-service performance. The new radar has been under development as a private venture over the past five years and provides an advanced high technology hardware and software solution with considerable weight saving and improved reliability.
Racal has also bid the Searchwater 2000 AEW (Airborne Early Warning) radar for the radar mission system upgrade of the Royal Navy's Sea King MK2 AEW helicopters. The selection of the Searchwater 2000AEW, which has a high degree of commonality with the MR variant, would provide the MoD with considerable benefits in terms of standardisation.
The Searchwater radar was originally developed by the Thorn Sensors Group which was acquired by Racal Radar Defence Systems in April 1995. The two companies now form Racal-Thorn Defence which has sites throughout the UK and is a member of the Racal Electronics Group. The Group has an annual turnover of over £1 billion, of which sales in defence electronics account for more than £320 million. Racal's principal defence activities are in the areas of electronic warfare, command information systems, advanced radar system and radio communications.