Britain in $2.8 billion upgrade for Typhoon warplanes

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FILE PHOTO: British Royal Air Force's Typhoon Eurofighter jets fly over Britain
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RAF FAIRFORD, England (Reuters) -Britain on Friday announced a 2.35 billion pound ($2.78 billion) upgrade, including a new radar and enhanced electronic warfare capability, for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet.

The radar known as ECRS Mk II will be installed by the end of the decade, initially on the third tranche of Typhoons, Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military airshow.

The investment marks the first production contract for a long-planned advanced "electronic attack" or jamming capability for the British version of the European warplane, which was jointly developed with Germany, Italy and Spain.

The radar is developed by Italy's Leonardo and will be integrated into the jets by BAE Systems.

Initially, it will be fitted to Britain's 40 existing Tranche 3 Typhoons, but the head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, told reporters its "aspiration" was to retrofit the 67 Tranche 2 aircraft.

Taken together with the addition of new mission computers, that overall goal represents a significant mid-life upgrade after a series of delays, said defence analyst Francis Tusa.

The project will also preserve high-tech jobs needed to help develop Britain's next-generation Tempest fighter, Quin said.

He said the upgrade was not directly related to threats related to the war in Ukraine, but added: "Of course the dreadful events in Ukraine really focus minds".

Wigston declined to comment on a Reuters report that Britain is discussing combining Tempest with Japan's planned next-generation fighter, but noted Britain is discussing co-operation on some related technologies with Japan and Italy.

It also remains in dialogue with Sweden, he added.

(Reporting by Tim HepherEditing by William James and Mark Potter)

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