Sunday, October 17, 2010
India Eyes Su-30 AESA Upgrade
India is looking at fitting its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters with Russian Phazotron Zhuk-AE active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars.
The X-band radar can track 30 aerial targets in the track-while-scan mode and engage six targets simultaneously in attack mode. By 2018, the Indian air force inventory is expected to comprise around 300 Su-30MKIs.
India’s Sukhois currently use N011M passive array technology, which delivers less peak power than an AESA. The N011M also has limitations in its back-end processing and requires more maintenance.
Defense Minister A.K. Antony recently told the Indian parliament about a proposal to upgrade the Indian air force’s Su-30 fleet. The upgrade is be carried out by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Russia’s Irkutsk, the original equipment manufacturer, starting in 2012. It is likely that the order for the AESA also will be made simultaneously, as the radar will have to be integrated into most parts of the aircraft, including the navigation systems and engines.
The Su-30 entered service in India in 2000 — the purchase was approved in 1997 — and the aircraft have not been upgraded since.
AESA technology offers improved performance and reliability compared with traditional mechanically scanned array radars. India also has made it clear that having an AESA will be critical in the competition for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). For instance, the F-16IN is being proposed with the Northrop Grumman APG-80, while the F/A-18E/F is being bid with the Raytheon APG-78. All the other contenders have offered an AESA road map,
During the April trials for the MiG-35, the Zhuk AE test radar had a slightly smaller array than the production version would feature. The MiG-35 also is a contender in the MMRCA competition.
India would also expect to field an AESA on the fifth-generation fighter — the co-development and production effort with Russia built around the Sukhoi T-50.