Hensoldt wins order for Quadome radar for UK Fleet Auxiliary ships

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Hensoldt South Africa’s new Quadome 3D surface and surveillance radar has been selected to equip the UK Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s three new support ships.

The new Fleet Solid Support (FSS) vessels will incorporate the Quadome Naval 3D Air and Surface Surveillance Radar as well as Hensoldt Air Traffic Management (ATM) system and Kelvin Hughes Integrated Navigation Bridge Systems (INBS) including SharpEye naval navigation radars and multifunction displays.

Hensoldt UK was selected by Navantia UK to supply these key systems, Hensoldt said in a statement. The FSS ships are being manufactured to support the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Each FSS is 216 metres long and displaces more than 39 000 tonnes. Construction work is being carried out at Navantia’s shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, and at Harland & Wolff’s shipyards in Belfast and Appledore. The project is coming at a cost of £1.6 billion.

As a result of the new contracts, Hensoldt will be investing over £1 million into its Enfield factory and test facilities in order to create a new European support hub for the Quadome radar, which was developed in South Africa.

The Quadome radar being supplied to the UK includes an integrated IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) antenna and will integrate into the Hensoldt MSSR 2000 IFF interrogator, already deployed for the UK Royal Navy and RFA. A comprehensive air traffic management display solution is also included as part of this contract.

Peter Dillon, Managing Director of Hensoldt UK said: “These contracts support our plans for significant new investment in our UK manufacturing and support facility. We are set to establish a new Quadome radar support and test facility at our Enfield factory, utilising UK supply chain support. This will provide local maintenance, repair and support services to Navantia and the UK RFA, while also creating new employment opportunities in the area.”

Hensoldt South Africa mainly specialises in optronics and spectrum dominance solutions, but in late 2021 launched the Quadome active electronically scanned array (AESA) surveillance radar, aimed at naval, land and air applications. It can be used for air and surface surveillance as well as target acquisition.

The result of one of the largest radar development programmes in South Africa in recent history, the Quadome has a range from 100 metres to 200 km and can process more than 1 000 air and surface targets.

Development of the new naval radar began in late 2019 and expanded with the launch of the Quadome Radar Development programme in close collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and key South African suppliers of defence electronics. As Quadome uses only local intellectual property, it is not subject to foreign export control.

“The system’s compact size and excellent price-performance ratio make it ideally suited for offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), corvettes, light frigates and support vessels. Its affordability and performance make it a compelling choice for maritime security operations, providing 3D air surveillance and air defence capabilities to vessels that may otherwise only have been fitted with 2D target-detection capability. Quadome is software-defined, allowing adaptation to the changing operational environment, and offers a predictive maintenance approach by synchronising maintenance activities with port visits, thus extending its operational lifetime,” Hensoldt said.

The Quadome Land version, officially launched at Africa Aerospace and Defence in September 2022, can fit inside a standard 20 foot ISO shipping container, making it highly portable. This gives a ‘radar in a box’ capability as it is completely self-contained, and it can be transported in a C-130 Hercules or similar aircraft. It has its own electric and hydraulic power for self-deployment, which takes 15 minutes.

Hensoldt South Africa’s radar business unit specialises in radar, identification friend or foe (IFF) and datalinks, as well as air traffic management (ATM) and radar services. The business was launched in January 2021 after Hensoldt South Africa acquired the Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Defence & Security business units of Tellumat at the end of 2020.