As part of Thales’ Offsets commitments under the Rafale India contract, and in line with the Make in India policy, Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has manufactured T/R (transmit/receive) modules for the RBE2 radar on the Dassault Aviation Rafale and delivered them to Thales.

Thales has provided transfer of technology and production, and associated training for BEL engineers in France. BEL has implemented a set of rigorous industrial processes and played an active role in the transfer programme.

In November 2020, the first RBE2 AESA (active electronic scanning array) radar with a front end manufactured by BEL in India was delivered by Thales to Dassault Aviation.

Specifically developed for Rafale, the RBE2 is the first in-service European AESA radar and has been combat proven on Rafale aircraft operated by the French Air Force. It was developed in close partnership with Dassault Aviation and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to meet the requirements of air forces, and uses innovative technologies to combine advanced fire control radar functions and target tracking capabilities. The T/R (transmit/receive) modules are key to the RBE2 radar’s active electronic scanning performance, enabling it to steer the radar beam with the speed of an electronic chip.

Initiated at the end of 2017, the transfer of technology to BEL has included validation of the company’s technical capacity to deliver prototypes, qualify the various technologies involved in the wiring process, set up a dedicated SMC wiring production line with a preproduction run, train BEL engineers in France and install test benches for microwave characterisation at the BEL facility. The modules produced in India are then integrated with the RBE2 radar in France. BEL and Thales teams are, thus working closely to transfer advanced technological know-how.

Compared to radars with conventional antennas, the RBE2 delivers an unprecedented level of tactical situational awareness, faster detection and tracking of multiple targets, and can also implement several radar modes instantaneously.

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