The correspondent of Russian 'Independent Military Review' Viktor Litovkin has published last week a new article about Russian 'Tikhomirov's NIIP' radar design house, which is the developer of AESA radar for 5th generation PAK FA fighter (Russo-Indian Future Fifth Generation Fighter - FGFA program). Here I publish my brief translaton of this article in my blog with some my comments at the end:
"The visitors of MAKS -2009 air show in Zhukovskiy (Moscow district), which is starting at August 18, will be surprised. They will see the full-scale AESA X-band radar, developed for the Russian prospective multifunctional fighters (PAK FA).
Why the appearance of this AESA is sensation? It's obvious. Yet other country publicly demonstrated a working AESA radars. Only the dummy models and the antenna mock-ups were demonstrated in Farnborough, Le Bourget, Berlin and Dubai. It never was acting radar for many reasons, including competitors fear.
Why 'Tikhomirov's NIIP' decided to act more openly? It's not only for emphasizing the high level of Russian last generation fighter, but also for showing Russian potential in creating AESAs for different modernization options. It's for Su-27 , Su-30, and MiG fighters, just as for other different ground-based systems of military and civil purposes.
The NIIP specialists emphasize that demonstrated AESA is manufactured on the domestic elements based on advanced Galium-Arsenide nano-size heterostructure technologies. The NIIP designers work on electronic scanning arrays (ESA) more than 40 years. Their first world ESA radar for fighter-interceptors was installed on the board of serial MiG-31 aircraft in 1981.
However, the represented model is far ahead of its ancestor in terms of detection capabilities , energy effectiveness, and modes of work . If comparing to passive ESA the advance of active ESA radars is lying in more effective realization of different “air-to-air” and “air-surface” modes, in its power, signal-noise factor, range of detection and so forth.
AESA advance contributes not only to the simultaneously detection of several aerial targets at maximum range (see-first-kill-first capability), but also, which is especially difficult, in targets tracking, disregarding of their maneuvers. If radar can continuously track the target, it is doomed.
AESA radars are more reliable than PESA because in case of one transmitting element failure the radar follows to work.
It is intended to sharply increase the level of the automation of control systems for maximally unbound the pilot from the routine control functions, with concentrating on tactical missions solution. This is especially important for the one-sitting multifunctional combat aircraft.
On the prospective fighters, says Yuri Belyy (NIIP), it will no longer be just radar, but the integrated radio-electronic system, which includes radars in several wave bands, an identification system, electronic warfare (EW) and electronic intelligence (ELINT). According to him all this is connected into the united ideology, the united concept, and will give the “synergetic combat effect”.
NIIP's AESA emitting modules (MMICS) are made on basis of proved serial technology, being manufacturing on the automated producing lines. For this purpose the state ensured colossal technological rearmament of one of the Moscow enterprises - “Istok inc.” (Fryazevo, Moscow district). Two product lines are under building: the line, where chips themselves are done and an assembly-line, where these chips are assembled into the microcircuits, and then they are integrated into the elements of antenna. These are the specialized micro-chip of superhigh frequencies (SHF), the monolithic integrated circuits of SHF band (MMICs). The more numerous such elements, the more powerful the radar. The quantity of modules in the antenna can reach several thousand.
NIIP's director Yuri Belyy emphasized that this is maximally automated production, in which a human factor is almost excluded. Early there was no such technology in Russia. The equipment, which is not produced in our country, was imported from different states, including Japan. However, Yuri Ivanovich (Belyy) did not say, how many radars they have manufactured.
- Everything is done upon the specific orders, it explained. – We have the manufacturing capability of "Istok", NIIP and 'Ryazan instrument plant' (GRPZ). Now we are transferring all the there necessary documentation and technology. During this program the new production housing with the new equipment was built… “In principle we are ready to equip with our radars up to 50 aircrafts per year”, - said Yuri Belyy.
NIIP's chief said also, that they do AESAs not only for fighters, but for other military systems too. Current antenna phased arrays technology can become standard for different purposes. It can be used in all military services, including long range antiaircraft missile systems, which are now created by “Almaz-Antey” and medium distance 'Buk' AAMS. Maximal unification and serial volume will give huge cost effect. It's the way Americans go: they transfer their military technologies into to civil sector - into the systems of communications and navigation, in warning system of rail transport etc…
- Although, it's impossibly to install our products on each car, we still are going to interest the railroad manufacturers in installing our civil devices for increasing the safety of traffic. However, on that way we still meet many bureaucratic problems.
THE FUTURE BELONGS TO YOUTH
Young radio engineers and the designers, who came 4-5 years ago from different Russian technical universities, have made a bulk part of the work. 'Tikhomirov's NIIP' employs approximately 400 people under age 30. 30-40 young employees were involved in AESA development directly, and when need, they even stayed overnight like in war time…
There are young persons everywhere: on the stands, on assembling and control line… However the general director is not satisfied and think that the number of young employees is not enough. He decide to build a new housing quarter for the young specialists families.
At the MAKS -2009 air show, 'Tikhomirov NIIP' will demonstrate also an L- range AESA. It's intended for installation into the leading-edge slats of the fighter's wing. It is also made with use of the contemporary domestic hybrid integral technologies and provides electronic scanning in wide sector of angles in horizontal axis. In addition it has broadband capability. Like the X-band radar, this L-band radar was assembled in NIIP with help of unique laboratory equipment, which includes the last word of contemporary technology: radar anechoic chamber".
There are two AESA programs in Russia with independent technologic basis and competitive design teams. These are 'Fazotron-NIIR' with its Zhuk-AE AESA project and 'Tikhomirov's NIIP', who develops PAK FA AESA radar. So the competition between them seems to be very fierce with good price outcome for buyers however.
It's not clear whether NIIP uses on its first AESA its unique mechanical gimbals for additional turning. It could drastically improve the angle of survey, which cannot be higher than 70 grad on a regular AESA. Let's wait to pictures from MAKS-2009.
My pics of NIIP's products on MAKS-2007: