Desi state-of-art radar for Tejas under trials, could replace Israeli product
As the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas gears up to become meaner and more potent, a DRDO lab in Bengaluru has quietly developed a state-of-the-art Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESAR), which once proven, will replace the Israeli radar currently integrated with the indigenous aircraft.
Called Utham, the radar is currently under evaluation trials and is scheduled to be fully integrated with Tejas for testing next month. Utham can track multiple targets simultaneously and also take high resolution pictures of enemy targets, which could be of help during reconnaissance missions.
Tejas currently flies with the EL/M 2052, an AESAR radar produced by Israeli firm ELTA, but Team Utham from LRDE (Electronics and Radar Development Establishment) is hopeful of getting its product on board.“Ours is a multi-mode fire control radar where all three modes — air-to-air, air-to-sea and air-to-ground can be used,” said SS Nagaraj, LRDE director. “It is a current generation system. The performance is comparable with any modern radar in this class.” He said that the radar is currently in the evaluation phase.
A fully electronically scanned agile beam radar which uses transmit or receive module (TRM), Utham has features that allow the aircraft to boast of low probability of intercept and non-cooperative target recognition.“It provides better situational awareness of the modern battlefield,” LRDE officials said. “It is capable of tracking multiple targets with high accuracy and is suitable for firing missiles and interleaved air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea modes for all terrain solution.”
Seshagiri D, Utham project director, said the radar’s final electronic integration on Tejas will happen next month, and that it will take about six months to prove all major modes of the radar.The project was sanctioned in 2012 and a team of about 30 has been working on the project. The team has borrowed heavily from its experience of making the main radar on the indigenous Airborne Early Warning And Control System (AEWACS) Netra, the desi ‘Eye in the Sky’, and the Maritime Patrol radar.
“Utham has both detection and tracking mode and imaging mode,” Seshagiri said. “In the imaging mode, the radar, which uses a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), is capable of taking high-resolution images of enemy assets. This is useful for recceing assets we need to bomb.”
Veeraraghvan, an LRDE scientist, said that in the inverse SAR surveillance mode, it can provide silhouettes of ships, which helps in identifying the kind of warship. “It shows various masts, different rotary structures et al to help identification,” he said.
Saleem Javed, another scientist, said that at present, the radar is flying on an executive jet, the Hawke-800 provided by Zephyr Aerospace, a Bengaluru-based firm. “Testing is happening at HAL airport,” he said. “Soon, it will be tested on the Tejas.”