On June 16, the Swedish company Saab confirmed that the Luftwaffe, Germany’s Air Force, has chosen the Saab Arexis electronic warfare (EW) suite to meet its Eurofighter Elektronischer Kampf (EK) requirement.
In 2022, German authorities announced their intention to equip 15 Eurofighters of the German Air Force for electronic warfare (EW) operations.
Following a recent survey conducted by Germany’s defense procurement office (BAAINBw), which evaluated European and international EW providers’ performance, integration, and certification process, German officials decided to move forward with Saab’s Arexis sensor suite.
In an official press release, the Swedish company also confirmed that BAAINBw had selected Saab’s Arexis sensor suite as the “preferred solution” for the electronic warfare (EW) variant of the German Eurofighter.
However, Saab has clarified that no contract has been signed, nor has any order been received pertaining to this specific project.
Anders Sjöberg, the head of Saab Germany, expressed his enthusiasm over the decision, stating, “We welcome this decision and look forward to proceeding with the next steps. Arexis is the perfect match for Germany’s electronic warfare requirements for the Eurofighter.”
As part of Saab’s proposal, a substantial portion of the project work will be conducted at Saab’s site in Bavaria, Germany, in collaboration with their artificial intelligence partner, Helsing.
Saab and its German partner Hensoldt have recently said that the selection will involve both companies providing the suite for the German Air Force’s Eurofighter EK electronic attack (EA) escort jammer aircraft by the year 2030.
The integration of the Arexis suite will be carried out by Airbus, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the Eurofighter in Germany.
But, before signing the contract, there will be further rounds of negotiations aimed at ironing out the finer details and ensuring that all aspects of the agreement are thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by all parties involved.
Arexis Sensor Suite
Previously known as the Eurofighter Electronic Combat Role (ECR), the Eurofighter EK is positioned as the escort jammer within a system-of-systems framework. This comprehensive approach aims to deliver a robust and integrated Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) capability.
The Eurofighter EK’s role is specifically focused on providing escort jamming capabilities, while other elements of the system include stand-off jammer aircraft and stand-in jammer effectors.
The German Air Force has outlined its intentions to upgrade 15 Eurofighters by equipping them with specialized sensors and equipment, allowing them to carry out electronic warfare missions. This upgrade is set to replace the Panavia Tornado ECRs.
The modification process for the Eurofighter EW variant is scheduled to be finalized by 2028. The installation of Saab’s sensor suite will introduce advanced features that will enhance the aircraft’s reconnaissance and self-protection capabilities by integrating AI-based cognitive electronic warfare technologies.
Arexis, which has also been incorporated into the Saab Gripen E/F fighter, is described by a Swedish company as a modular electronic warfare system that uses cutting-edge hardware and software, including top-tier AI algorithms, to maintain its superiority in challenging electromagnetic circumstances.
As per the Saab website, the key features of the Arexis system encompass superior situational awareness in complex signal environments through the use of high-power gallium nitride (GaN) active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs).
It also boasts unmatched self-protection capabilities in all directions, achieved by employing state-of-the-art ultra-wideband receivers and digital radio frequency memories (DRFMs).
While the Arexis system can be fully integrated into an aircraft, it also has the flexibility to be deployed as a missionized pod. However, the specific configuration for the Eurofighter EKs has not been explicitly disclosed. A Saab spokesperson stated on June 16 that further details are not being revealed.
The Arexis suite, to be equipped on the Eurofighters of the Luftwaffe, will incorporate advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cognitive electronic warfare (EW) capabilities provided by Saab’s partner, Helsing.
This AI platform analyzes the radar data collected by the aircraft to swiftly generate accurate self-protection measures against contemporary enemy radars, as stated in a press release by Helsing.
Helsing noted that this capability upgrade would establish a foundation for continuous iteration and development cycles, enabling the EW suite to be updated at the speed of software throughout the system’s lifespan.
Dr. Gundbert Scherf, co-founder and co-CEO of Helsing, highlighted the crucial role of electronic warfare (EW) in peer warfare, citing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as evidence.
According to a statement from Helsing, Dr. Scherf stated, “The war in Ukraine proves that EW plays a critical role in peer warfare – and it is becoming increasingly dynamic through the use of the software.”
He explained that the selection of the Saab-Helsing solution for the Eurofighter demonstrates the German government’s dedication to the autonomous processing of data and the recognition of artificial intelligence (AI) as a vital component in modern electronic warfare.
Despite progress in selecting Saab’s Arexis sensor suite for the German Eurofighter EW variant, finalizing the details and signing the formal contract are still pending.