The British Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin announced a £269M (US$327 million) deal for the procurement of 10 aerial surveillance systems to operate on thenew Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Initial deliveries are expected in 2018 with initial operational capability in 2020.
UK is the prime contractor for the Crowsnest project. The company will integrate airborne early warning radars and passive electronic support measures in the Mk2 helicopters provided by Leonardo that will also modify the Navy’s 30 AW101 HM.2 platforms to be able to carry the mission package.
will provide the sensor suite solution for the system. With the new radar will replace the Seaking AEW7 that operated from the decks of the ’s Invincible class aircraft carriers that were phased out of service in recent years. The system is an updated and improved version of the Cerberus tactical sensor suite, currently in service on the Sea King Mk7 helicopter.
The Merlin Mk2will act as the eyes and ears for the ’s ships, providing long range air, maritime and land detection and tracking capability. The Merlin Mk2 helicopters already perform a number of other roles for the Royal Navy, including anti submarine warfare, search and rescue.
The Corwsnet equipped helicopters will be based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, UK and are expected to remain operational for at least 20 years.