The first Eurofighter Typhoon with an on-board Pirate infrared search and track (IRST) has been delivered to Italian Aeronautica Militare. The aircraft is part of the Tranche 1 batch 5 of the international Eurofighter program and operates from the Grosseto base in Tuscany.
Designed and produced by Galileo Avionica, the Pirate performs the same tasks of radar, but operates in a totally passive mode, without electromagnetic radiation, by detecting heat emanating from various targets. This is a crucial feature that enhances tactical superiority because it makes detection of the aircraft more difficult.
Leveraging state-of-the-art technologies, the Pirate combines the capabilities of IRST and forward-looking infrared (FLIR). The Pirate is compact so that the electronics can be installed inside the aircraft, while the search-head sensor emerges at the left side of the nose, in front of the windshield.
Galileo Avionica is a prime contractor of the EuroFirst Consortium, which comprises Thales in the United Kingdom and Tecnobit in Spain. In 2006, the consortium was awarded a contract to supply 200 Pirate systems for the Tranche 2 of the Eurofighter for the various nations involved. The value for Galileo Avionica of the program, which includes Tranche 2 and Tranche 1, is approximately 280 million U.S. dollars.
Galileo Avionica has also developed a Naval version of the IRST, which is the silent acquisition surveillance system (SASS) and it is installed for a series of trials onboard the Euro Frigate. The detection will ultimately equip aircraft onboard the Cavour, an aircraft carrier in the Italian Navy.
A commercial version of the Pirate, named IRST-C, is available.