According to sources, the use of an indigenously developed active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar shall be demonstrated by the Indian Air Force (IAF) later this month, to prove the indigenous force-multiplier that lies at the heart of precision-guided ammunition, long-distance, electronic warfare and long-range missiles.
The UTTAM AESA radar was confirmed to be 95% indigenous with only one imported subsystem as said by one of the officials of the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) while it was also said that at a range in excess of 100km, it has the capacity to track 50 targets and engage four of them simultaneously.
What is an AESA?
In simple terms, an AESA is an array antenna that is computer-controlled while the antenna contains the beam of radio waves that can be electronically steered to point in different directions without moving the antenna. under the control of a computer, each antenna element is connected to a small solid-state transmit/receive module (TRM) in AESA which performs the functions of a transmitter and/or receiver for the antenna.
Which fighters are to equip the radar?
As per sources, all the 83 Indian Air Force’s Tejas Mark 1 A fighters shall be equipped with this radar in the next five years as will the future twin-engine AMCA fighter developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
Along with being mounted on the carrier-based MiG-29 fighters of the Indian military, the AESA radars shall also be mounted on the radar cone of Su-30 MKI aircraft, as said by the above-cited official. While the official said that in order to be the lead integrator of the radar on the Tejas Mk I A with four identified vendors including BEL being the suppliers of key sub-systems, the LRDE has signed an MoU with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited already.
While the other aircraft shall be fitted with the indigenous Uttam AESA radar, The first 16 Tejas MK 1A aircraft will be fitted with Israeli ELM 2052 AESA radars on the other hand. That said, for over 250 hours, the radar has already been tested on Hawker Siddeley 800 executive jet along with two Tejas fighters as well. With the force multiplier ready for production, the radar will be finally demonstrated in a flight this month.
The Green Flag Waved
The radar has already been shown the green flag by the National Flight Testing Centre, which is manned by the IAF after the radar completed successful performance tests. Earlier, indigenous airborne warning and control systems planes and Indian fighters were used to be equipped with primary radars. If the Indian fighters had AESA radars mounted on intercepting fighters, the Pakistan Air Force’s counter strike for the Balakot strike in February 2019 would have turned costly for Islamabad.
With the delivery of guided ammunition over long distances, the active electronically scanned array radar is the key to the DRDO’s Astra air-to-air missile, which has a range well over 120km.