What Makes AESA Radar Stand Out from Other Radar Systems?
Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) systems marked a significant advancement in radar technology when they were initially introduced. What does the future of AESA systems hold, though, as electronic warfare technologies develop and become more vital to retaining a military advantage? Let's look at how this incredible technology functions and how you can anticipate it changing in the near future.
What is AESA Radar?
A phased array system, also known as an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), is a collection of antennas that can focus a beam of radio waves in various directions without physically moving the antennae. Radar systems make extensive use of AESA technology.
The passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar, a solid state system that uses phase shifter modules to selectively delay some parts of the signal while allowing others to transmit without delay, is credited with helping to pave the way for the development of ASEA technology in the early 1960s. The signal beam can be pointed in various directions by using this method of signal transmission to create signals with various shapes. Beam steering is another name for this.
The earliest AESA systems, which offered several advantages over the older PESA systems, were created in the 1980s. An AESA uses a number of transmitter/receiver modules connected to the antenna components, whereas a PESA only uses one transmitter/receiver module. This allows an AESA to produce many radar beams simultaneously at different frequencies.
For better situational awareness, AESA systems are being deployed on a variety of military platforms, including drones and military aircraft.
What makes AESA radar superior to traditional radar systems?
Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology has revolutionized the field of military and commercial radar systems. AESA radars offer many advantages over traditional mechanically scanned radar systems, making them the preferred choice in many applications.
1. Resistance to Electronic Jamming
High levels of resistance to electronic jamming techniques are one of the main benefits of an AESA system. When an enemy radar is broadcasting at a certain frequency, it can be jammed by identifying that frequency and sending a signal to confuse the enemy radar at that frequency. Engineers eventually discovered a means to prevent this type of jamming by creating radar systems that could adjust their frequency with each pulse.
However, jamming technologies evolved alongside radar. The "chirping" method of radar, which is used by AESA systems, allows them to disperse frequencies throughout a broad spectrum and even within individual pulses. An AESA system is considerably more difficult to jam than other types of radar due to the combination of these characteristics.
2. Low Interception
An enemy radar warning receiver (RWR) is unlikely to intercept an AESA system. An aircraft or vehicle can use an RWR to detect when a radar beam from an external source has hit it. By doing this, it can also determine the direction of the beam and, in turn, the location of the enemy. In order to get around RWRs, AESA systems are quite effective.
It becomes extremely challenging for an RWR to determine whether the AESA radar beam is indeed a radar signal at all or merely one of the ubiquitous "white noise" radio transmissions. This is due to how the "chirps" noted above change frequency so quickly and in a completely random pattern.
3. Increased Reliability
Another advantage of employing AESA systems is that since each module runs independently, a failure in one module won't significantly affect the operation of the entire system. High-bandwidth data communications between aircraft and other equipped systems can be established using AESA technology.
4. Multi-Mode Capability
The system can carry out a variety of tasks due to the various modes that this radar technology supports, including:
● Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mapping
● Real beam mapping
● Sea surface search
● Air-to-air search and track
● Ground-moving target indication and tracking
What Are the Different Uses of AESA Radar Technology?
AESA radar technology has many applications in both the military and civilian sectors. In the military, AESA radar is used for air-to-air combat, air-to-ground attacks, and ground-based air defense systems. AESA radar is also used in missile defense systems, ground surveillance radar, and maritime surveillance radar. In the civilian sector, AESA radar is used for weather monitoring, air traffic control, and search and rescue operations.
Limitations of AESA Radar
As with most technologies, AESA radar technology development has its share of difficulties that producers must overcome. The most frequent difficulties relate to power, cooling, weight, and cost.
Fortunately, progress has already been done and is still being made as technology gets better. For instance, these radars' weight and size have both fallen significantly over the previous few years. This enables the AESA to be deployed in locations other than the aircraft's nose. The radar will have several orientation options and offer a larger field of view.
Will AESA Radar Become the Next Big Thing in Military Technology?
As was briefly said, AESA technology has improved and become smaller and more accessible. As a result, many nations have been able to integrate AESA with existing ground-based, maritime, and aviation systems.
At the Association of the US Army's winter trade show in 2016, Raytheon made headlines in the defense technology industry by introducing its gallium nitride (GaN)-based AESA upgrade to the PatriotTM Air and Missile Defence System. The system has successfully operated for 1000 hours since it was first introduced. They may cover a full 360 degrees by coupling two of these improved devices facing opposing directions.
Worldwide nations are integrating AESA radar into their military planes and ships, and contractors are scrambling to keep up with demand. To upgrade the AESA radar systems on its fleet of Jaguar fighter planes, India has signed a contract with an Israeli company. Even though these jets are old, adding AESA radar capabilities will enable them and other legacy craft to remain useful in a future where electronic warfare is becoming more and more crucial. In other words, current conventional forces are ineffective without AESA. As time goes on, it will spread more widely and is no longer a choice.