AI.24 Foxhunter along with a Panavia Tornado ADV
|Country of origin||UK|
The AI.24 (Foxhunter) airborne radar is carried by the Panavia Tornado ADV fighter aircraft (known as the Tornado F3 in Royal Air Force service) and gives it an all-weather, day and night, beyond-visual-range engagement capability.
Despite initial problems, (the radar was several years late and 60 percent over budget) successive upgrades constantly improved the Royal Air Force's Tornado F3 fleet. While the aircraft is not a "true" air defence fighter in the mould of the F-15 and F-16, the RAF has developed tactics to exploit its long range engagement capabilities and to guard against its weaknesses.
Much of the radar system and related operational software was developed at the Radar Research Laboratory of GEC-Marconi Elliott Avionic Systems Ltd., initially at the Elliott Automation plant in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, and latterly (from 1981 to 2004) as Marconi Avionics at the (formerly the Xerox site of a matrix of interconnected grey portacabins and a few factory units) facility on Monks Way, Linford Wood, Milton Keynes. This site has changed completely in the years since, but there is now a Foxhunter Drive starting where the high security gate was.
In 1987 GEC argued that the contractual relationships were partly to blame for the delay in the Foxhunter entering service – although GEC was responsible for most of the radar, Ferranti manufactured the transmitter and reported to the Ministry of Defence who acted as the prime contactor. A new contract was signed in March 1988 and described as "tight" (i.e. not lenient towards Marconi) by the Financial Times.
Production Tornado F.2s had concrete ballast in place of the Foxhunter radar, due to the problems. This ballast became known as the "Blue Circle radar", a play on words from a British brand of concrete by the same name, and the Rainbow Codes previously used for British radars.
The UK's Tornado F3 fleet were ultimately equipped with "Stage 3 AI.24s".
- "Tornado Radar". Aviation Week & Space Technology (McGraw-Hill, Inc.). 1981-06-29. p. 63.
- Buchan, David; McLain, Lynton (1987-04-02). "Closing Ranks In Defence Of Foxhunter". Financial Times (The Financial Times Limited). p. 6.