Saudi signs for further AWACS upgrade

by Gareth Jennings

The Royal Saudi Air Force fields five E-3 AWACS aircraft, which it will now upgrade under the RSAF AWACS Modernization Program Phase 2. (Boeing)

Saudi Arabia is to further modernise its fleet of Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, with a USD397.9 million contract awarded to the original equipment manufacturer on 16 December.

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) AWACS Modernization Program Phase 2 award will see all five aircraft upgraded in the United States and Saudi Arabia till 21 February 2026.

“This contract provides for production, training, and installation and checkout, in order to keep the RSAF E-3 AWACS fleet interoperable with the US Air Force (USAF) and functionally viable through its expected end of life in 2040,” the US Department of Defense said in its contract notification, noting that the work involves 100% Foreign Military Sales funding.

Boeing delivered Saudi Arabia's AWACS aircraft between June 1986 and September 1987. As noted in the announcement, Saudi Arabia's AWACS modernisation is part of a wider effort to keep pace with the technological improvement being implemented for the USAF's fleet of 31 aircraft.

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BEL to supply multiple technologies to Indian Armed Forces

by Oishee Majumdar

BEL said it will deliver 12 units of the Swathi weapon locating radar (pictured) to the Indian Army by 2025, under a INR9.91 billion contract. (BEL)

Indian public sector undertaking (PSU) Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has secured multiple contracts from the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) to supply systems related to communication, air defence, electronic warfare (EW), electronic support measures (ESM), and radars to all the three services of the armed forces.

BEL will supply three systems to the Indian Army, namely the Swathi weapon locating radar (WLR) under a INR9.91 billion (USD120.6 million) contract; the Automated Air Defence Control and Reporting System (Project Akashteer) under a INR19.82 billion contract; and the Instant Fire Detection and Suppressing System (IFDSS) for the T-72 tanks, BEL said on 30 March.

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Poland orders new radars for Pilica VSHORAD system

by Olivia Savage

Bystra, fitted on an AMZ Kutno Żubr-P armoured vehicle, is a redeployable radar developed by PIT-RADWAR that is capable of detecting aerial threats, such as helicopters, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for V/SHORAD systems. (PIT-RADWAR)

The Polish Armament Agency has signed a PLN1.1 billion (USD255.4 million) agreement with the PGZ-Pilica+ consortium for the Bystra radar, the authority announced on 29 March.

In total, 22 Bystra radars, developed by PIT-RADWAR under the PGZ-Pilica+ consortium, will be delivered between 2026 and 2028, and are intended for the Pilica+ anti-aircraft missile and artillery system (PSR-A).

This is the second contract placed by the Polish Ministry of National Defence for the company's radars, with an initial PLN634.9 million deal signed in September 2019 for 16 Bystra systems. Deliveries are expected to complete by 2025.

Bystra is a small redeployable radar designed to detect and localise aerial threats at short ranges. It can be used in very-short-range and short-range air-defence (V/SHORAD) systems and has a maximum range of 80 km.

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SOFINS 2023: Thales demos Sophie Ultima's long-range targeting capability

by Amael Kotlarski

Thales Sophie Ultima. (Janes/Amael Kotlarski)

Thales demonstrated the Far Target Location (FTL) capabilities of its Sophie Ultima thermal imager at the SOFINS 2023 exhibition in Bordeaux, France.

Sophie Ultima features an optical day channel with a 20º wide field-of-view and unlike earlier members of the Sophie family is fitted with a continuous zoom function, which helps to maintain the target in sight at extended distances. The system is equipped with a cooled thermal imager that supports a 6 km detect, recognise, and identify range for a standard NATO tank-sized target. The system also supports picture-in-picture (PIP) functionality, as well as augmented reality and the ability to download and upload imagery. Cartography maps, specifically orthoimagery, can be loaded into the onboard memory with a maximum size of 200×200 km.

The imager is also equipped with a laser rangefinder with an effective range of 15 km. The overall system weighs 2.7 kg and can be used handheld or mounted on a tripod. According to Thales, in average ambient temperatures, the thermal sensors take three-and-a-half minutes to reach operating temperatures.

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