Catching Up with Europe's Cobra Radar
(Source: Forecast International; issued July 9, 2020)
NEWTOWN, Conn. --- The COBRA (Counter Battery Radar), produced by the EURO-ART Advanced Radar Technology Consortium, is a multifunctional, C-band, electronically scanned active phased-array radar tasked with long-range rocket, artillery, and mortar (RAM) defense. This includes the detection of enemy artillery, rockets, and mortar rounds, the classification of the round, and the localization of the firing unit.

No new COBRA units have been produced since the U.A.E. took delivery of its final system in 2017. However, the system continues to be operated by France and Germany who fund In-Service Support activities through an OCCAR contract with ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik.

Declining European budgets and a shift in operational activity mean that much of the money previously earmarked for COBRA has been reallocated by operators. Budgetary streamlining in the U.K. has already triggered the canceling of COBRA operations -- the system was deemed superfluous to the country's needs. Turkey subsequently followed the U.K.'s lead and left the program.

For the time being, fellow OCCAR operators France and Germany continue to fund the system. OCCAR budget documents indicate that the group is committed to COBRA through at least the near term. Farther into the 2020s, two possibilities exist: the members could transition to newer systems, or OCCAR's planned midlife upgrade could adapt the system for contemporary and future needs, thus giving it renewed support for the long term.

Outside of the European region, some additional sales are possible, yet highly unlikely. As displayed by the UAE's purchase, and in light of ongoing conflicts in the region, countries in the Middle East would be the most likely candidates for a COBRA procurement. Likewise, a potential market exists in Northern Africa, which faces some of the same threats as the Middle East. Countries with strong ties to France and/or Germany would be the lead candidates for a COBRA procurement.

Even after identifying potential contract regions, though, Forecast International does not expect any further COBRA production.

In the meantime, steady O&M funding from current operators and OCCAR members is expected through the next 10 years, and potentially beyond. Adding to the total, funding for a midlife upgrade has begun and is forecast to continue through 2022. The additional funding will come alongside the awarding of a new In-Service Support contract in late 2020.

When the new ISS contact is awarded, ESG may be displaced as the program lead contractor, but for now, the contractor is expected to retain its position.

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