Israeli Elta v/s. Thales RBE2 Radar:- Which will be Fitted on LCA Tejas MK1-A

The Ministry of Defence has decided to locally produce 106 upgraded Light Combat Aircraft “Tejas” jets to replace the ageing fleet of MiG fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The “Tejas Mark 1-A” will have 43 improvements over the existing Tejas currently being test-flown by the IAF for various parameters and slated for final operation clearance in March. The existing project is running years behind schedule.

Planned to be equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and electronic warfare systems currently missing from the FOC standard Tejas Mk.1, the Tejas Mk.1A may be the ultimate development of the basic Tejas airframe given its lack of internal volume without necessitating major redesign.While there is a proposed Mk.2 variant of the Tejas with upgraded General Electric F414 engines, this seems to be some time off in the future and remains a project essentially in potential.

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.

Israeli company, Elta after winning contract, to supply 61 Elta’s ELM-2052 AESA radar to be equipped on DARIN-3 upgraded Jaguar fleet of Indian Air Force was largely seen as in the driver seat before India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) invited overseas bids for 80 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and electronic warfare (EW) suites to be equipped on soon to be developed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk 1A variant.

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Request for quotation (RFQ) for 80 AESA radars issued last December had asked for fast delivery scheduled since the project is expected to go alive by 2019 followed by production by 2021. Israel Aerospace Industries/Elta (Israel), Raytheon (United States), Rosoboronexport (Russia), Saab (Sweden), and Thales (France) were some of the companies which received RFQ but tight delivery schedule meant not all agreed to participate.

ELTA Radar

The Elta radar will 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.

Thales Radar

Thales has developed an active array radar that meets the specific needs of HAL, to equip the 80 TEJAS Mk1A multirole LCA of the Indian Air Force. The radar has successfully completed an initial flight test designed to measure its performance level. In order to meet the needs of HAL, Thales is offering a lightweight, compact active array radar. Thales’ has demonstrated by the RBE2 radar installed on Rafale, the operational reliability of this technology. The RBE2 radar has been operated by the armed forces since 2012. The tests conducted during summer 2017 at the Cazaux air base in France, on a test bench aircraft, focused on metrological analyses of the radar performance. These test flights proved that the radar is fully operational and perfectly corresponds to the specific requirements of HAL’s Mk1A LCA for combat and air superiority missions. Thales radar is an advanced Fire Control Radar (FCR) designed for air-to-air superiority and strike missions, based on fully solid-state Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) technology, enabling the radar to achieve long detection ranges, high mission reliability and multi-target tracking capabilities.

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The Thales radar is compliant with the requirement and provides simultaneous modes of operation supporting multi-mission capabilities for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea operation modes, and weapon deployment.

Unconfirmed reports hint that IAF wanted to equip Tejas Mk-1A, which will be India’s Point Air Defence Interceptor aircraft to be equipped with AESA radar which can dominate in air-superiority missions thus Elta’s ELM-2052 was sidelined for some reason even though it was already equipped with Jaguar ground attack aircraft fleet.


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