Israeli Super AESA Radars for India’s LCA Fighter Jet with enhanced combat capability
The home grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is set to be equipped with Israeli super radars that will give it the combat edge to engage multiple air and ground targets simultaneously. Israeli firm ELTA is likely to shortly bag an order for a new set of AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars for an air force order of 83 LCA Mk 1A jets.
AESA radars have replaced conventional systems at the heart of all modern fighter aircraft – be it the Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A 18 other than fifth generation jets like the F 22 and F 35.AESA radar enjoys key advantages over conventional “manually steered” radar. In the latter, the antenna is moved manually to let the radar beam scan the sky for enemy targets. In AESA radar, the beam moves electronically, switching between multiple targets so rapidly that it effectively scans them simultaneously, even when they are located far apart – in the air, on sea, and the ground. By switching its beam rapidly, the “multi-tasking” AESA radar can simultaneously track enemy aircraft, guide missiles to those targets, and jam enemy communications and radar. In modern-day aerial combat, AESA radar would be a key difference between defeat and victory.
The Israeli firm appears to have beat off competition from French firm Thales for the contract that has been in the works since 2016. Sources said that advanced negotiations are now on to finalise the contract at the earliest for early delivery of the combat enhanced jets to the Indian Air Force.
The Elta radar can track multiple targets in all weather conditions and its most important feature is its ability to be deployed fast. The radar will be equipped to track wide variety of platforms including low-level high-speed fighter aircraft, hovering helicopters, low ultra-light aircraft and UAVs.
Indian Army will operationalize these high mobility and low power consuming radars in difficult Himalayan terrain bordering Pakistan and China. Indian Army has asked for radars which can provide accurate range, azimuth and elevation angle measurements for each target, and capable of differentiating between different type of threat.
HAL already has a lot of experience working with SEPECAT Jaguar DARIN III which was equipped with an Elta EL/M-2052 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar b
The ELTA radar is a derivate of the EL/M-2052 Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) that has also been equipped onboard the Jaguar DARIN III fighter jets of the air force. It has been selected for the LCA program ahead of the French Thales RBE2 radar derivative. Earlier, other suitors including the Americans and Swedes dropped out of the competition.
The integration of an AESA radar is a pre requisite to the air force order that also mandates equipping the fighters with beyond visual range missiles and an electronic warfare suite. The radars give much more range and engagement potential to fighters, enabling them to engage targets from a distance without getting detected. The AESA will give the LCA an edge over fighter of a similar weight category that are operating in the region with conventional radars.
The Jaguar DARIN III is India’s first fighter jet to be equipped with AESA radars with 58 of them being integrated currently onto the fleet. The deep penetration fighter fleet got a big upgrade with the new radars, significantly increasing the air force’s capability to carry out cross border strikes.