Thursday, August 27, 2009

MAKS-2009 - NIIP celebration

One of the questions often raised in regard to Russian military radar program is why the Russians started development of their AESA so late? Relative lack of foundation in 90th, especially if comparing with the huge military-industrial complex pumping in previous two decades, is a cause of course. However, this cause doesn't exhaust the number of factors for such a late development. Other factor was curiously enough an advance of Russian radar design houses in ESA technology. Until the new Millennium, the AESA technology could not compete with Russian PESA, so there was no a cause to rush for unproved (AESA) technology, while the cost of radar is raised times with it. The western competitors however suffered with lack of so advanced PESA radars like MiG-31 'Zaslon' or naval 'Fregat' spent up to two decades for AESA development. Unlike them Russians did the same progress during short 5 years, when such a goal became actual in early 00th.

The last MAKS-2009 Airshow was a celebration day for one of the most prominent Russian radar developer NIIP. First time they have got a permission to show their cutting edge production for public. Usually only an export production is allowed for display, but this time they presented their prospective products for Russian Air Forces too.

The NIIR chiefs, general director Yuriy Beliy, general designers Anatoliy Sinani and Vladimir Zagorodniy (you can see them on the pic), presented their 'children' for journalists and foreign military delegates personally. The MMIC's were developed and made by NPO 'Istok' (Moscow), while the serial production will be organized in GRPZ plant (Ryazan). The documentation is already sent there.

The look of demonstrated AESA antenna makes a ground for some speculations about PAK-FA (FGFA) itself. You can see relatively modest dimension with depressed height. If in addition to take into consideration the upper deflection of the antenna, we can speculate about considerable flatness of FGFA's nose.

Apart with AESA X-band radar there are displayed an additional S-band radar for fighters (Su-27, Su-30, Su-35 and probably for FGFA too). This radar is very effective against potential enemy stealth fighters, like F-22 or F-35, since there is no proven stealth technology for L-band. Thus, it should be say, the progress in radars' development, effectively made by relatively low cost, does considerably nullify the huge investments, made by the Americans in their stealth machines. It could be seen as a Russian asymmetric answer to the American weapon race.

Other scoop – was 'Irbis-E' radar for '4++ fighter ' Su-35. It could be used on other Su-27 family fighters too. Unlike another NIIP's PESA 'Bars' radar, it has wider searching angle and is placed on the two-axis hydraulic drive. Then, the vertical polarization of wave can be changed to horizontal to improve conditions of observing for maritime targets. This is the radar, which the Russians were insistently refusing to sell for the Chinese. Now, with all those signs of a new Sino-American bonhomie and 'Chimerica', such selling seems to me even less possible, than a year ago. 'Irbis' capability is like a twice better than the current best PESA 'Bars' radar.

However, don’t understate 'Bars's upgrading capability! 'Bars's chief designer Tamerlan Bekirbayev says the capability for simultaneously detecting, tracking and engaging several aerial targets with one ground target already exists on the serial 'Bars' radars. During next step of upgrading :

- The air detection range will be more, than doubled!
- The number of tracked and egaged targets will be increased 1.5-2 times (from current 20 & 8 figures).
- The mapping performance in terms of target detection range and resolution will be doubled!
- The number of tracked ground targets will be doubled too.
- Some new operation modes will be added, particularly Meteo and Active Countermeasures modes.
- Interaction with other avionic systems (ECM, EO targeting) will be expanded.
- The range of weapon use will be extended.
- Formation mission capabilities will be enhanced.

After the completing this stage of upgrade, the next step will be equipping 'Bars' radar with AESA antenna. If so, it could be the first world AESA radar with additional gimbals mechanism. Even after AESA variant go for serial production, NIIP chiefs believe PESA radars will remain a low cost solution for many customers worldwide.


  1. to igorr

    it means su30/35 will have the L band radars on the wings along with irbis e/aesa radars

    and also the L band nose mounted radar for mig series fighters as well

  2. First a radar on its "sting" and now radar panels on leading edge - Russians are innovated. That's going to boost Su35's should-to-should sensor coverage.

  3. i hope they use the same L BAND radar on mig35 wings edges

  4. Igorr,

    Gr8 blog.Very informative one.

    some time ago there was news tht this(above mentioned) second version(called BARS II by indian media) had flown on an Su-30MKI Mk.3 is it possible tht this was the RADAR which had some of the above mentioned capabilities(may be DDM but don't know cant trace the news tht disclosed this) can u confirm or tht was total hogwash and this IS planned upg path for BARS?

    Also the upg path seems to focus more on the Backend and the software refining of the RADAR also, since BARS is a PESA is it possible convert it to an AESA by replacing the Antenna? If so then i think this was a masterstroke on part of the NIIP and IAF to see and plan the steeped induction of such capability as early 1997.
    wht do u think?

  5. to anon August 27, 2009 4:52 AM

    Su-35 HAS it for sure, & goes with it to serial production for RuAF. For other Su-27/30 family it's an option.

    About L-band radar for MiG's I dont know.

  6. Hi, Sachin!

    1) Confirmed, this IS planned nearest upg path for BARS. They have planned some upgrading roadmap for sure.
    2) AESA antenna for Bars is the next, more distant prospect.

  7. Igor

    The current Bars in IAF service can track 15 targets and engage 4 not track 20 and engage 8!!

  8. to anon August 27, 2009 2:21 PM:

    Indeed, I met both figures. If you can get for me an argument (and a source) why 15/4 is more reliable figures than 20/8, I would be appreciative.

  9. to igor

    please repaire the cut,copy,paste option

  10. to anon August 28, 2009 6:08 AM:

    didnt understand what you speak about, sorry. cam you explain?

  11. ok igor

    just try to write something in the comment writing white box and click right right button of your mouse to open cut,copy,paste option

    u will find that cut,cpoy paste option don't work

  12. to anon August 28, 2009 1:46 PM:

    It certainly works well with my Opera browser.

  13. >>>Indeed, I met both figures. If you can get for me an argument (and a source) why 15/4 is more reliable figures than 20/8, I would be appreciative.


    Please go to and see press release for Phase 3 MKI, it says 15, 4.

    Also, see press release for MKM, which is Phase 3 MKI with some French avionics replacing Israeli ones. It says 15,4

    Basically, original plan for Bars was 30,8 which became 15,4

    Only IRBIS-E will now achieve this figure.

    Track and engage numbers are also dependent on power of radar, which is also an issue.

    I also feel BARS range number is heavily underreported in media and public, and in reality it is much more.

  14. to anon August 28, 2009 5:13 PM:

    Of course, I know, what NIIP have claimed repeatedly. I could say you more: Rosoboron is still asserting 15/4 in its official online catalog. That catalog however is a 'strange bird' with information lag 6-8 years from now...

    So, since I'm not a 'copy-paste expert' to only repeat official numbers, I tried to make some analysis of facts.

    In this case there are a number of circumstances for not to trust this figures (15/4), that seem to be understated:

    - No respectable customer (India, Malaysia) would satisfied with 15/4 since radars with 30/8 are allready exist on the market.
    - Last time NIIP doesnt repeat these figures (15/4) in new articles like that article of Bekirbayev, they're just silent about the figures.
    - Russians are well known by themselves with their underreporting in sensitive military tech.
    - Indians could as well ask their Russian counterparts to keep silence about their first line radar characteristics. If take to consideration the level of Russian mil. complex dependence from Indians, they can do it even if it somehow harm to marketing image.
    - The radar was significantly upgraded already, was reported, and if so, the TWS/engaging and range characteristics would be improved. Thus, 15/4 is hardly believed.
    - A probably leakage of information could be taken place from India, where MKI is in service, and BR's figures are 20/8.

    About the range number I agree with you, it's very probably underreported with just same reasons. As about to Irkut's report claiming 15/4 - it's from 2004 and now 2009. NIIP's technologies allow much more with PESA, we know it from Irbis' reports and from Bekirbayev's article.

  15. Igor

    >>No respectable customer satisfied...

    Why wont they be satisfied, and which are these other radars?
    First, 15 TWS is itself a lot since one squadron of planes can be only 20 planes. Engaging 4 targets together is also rarest of rare cases, and is possible only with targets within one aircrafts "radar cone".

    Aircraft with more TWS/ Target engaged feature are just using it as PR. In practical terms all radars have a limitation in amount of information they process and what they display.

    Bars radar can detect >15, it then decides which are priority targets or pilot can select and then tracks those. In full HOTAS systems, you can then "bug" selected targets for engagement - this is Selected Target TRACK or high quality track. BARS can do this for 4 with RVV-AE, and 2 with AA-10.

    >> The radar upgraded already

    Yes, it was upgraded to 15/4 using Indian radar computers RC1 and RC2.
    This is the same radar computer in RMAF, AAF aircraft also.
    Bars radar data processing is tightly integrated with the RC1 RC2 hardware.
    Each RC can assist in tracking of 8 targets. So "real numbers" are 16 TWS, in practical terms this is no different than 15. Original radar used Russian TS Series processor which tracked lower numbers.

    Radar track, engage numbers are not just software but hardware also, both on signal processing and power channel side. These upgrades have not been made to BARS because IAF will be more concerned about more useful parameter such as range and field of view. In real life, if one MKI is facing > 15 targets then something has gone wrong bigtime.

    Comparing IRBIS to BARS is also wrong because IRBIS has ~4 times average power of BARS, which gives it more capability to radiate more energy in particular areas of interest and get more S/N back.

    IAF is clearly waiting for NIIP to develop the full upgrade of BARS with all the improvements included. Current BARS is already a very powerful radar compared to in service systems worldwide anyways.

    Otherwise it is a logistical problem. MKI in 1-100 have RADAR1, 100-150- RADAR2, 150-230 RADAR3...
    All aircraft are put all over India in different places, logistics is problem for spares and everything, test equipment etc.

    I also think BARS has superior range capabilities - possible - than IRBIS, especially if IRBIS uses OSA radant pin diode based antenna for lighter weight. Lighter weight, smaller antenna (900 mm versus BARS 960 MM) allows for large rotation of antenna in vertical and azimuth in Irbis.

    But BARS antenna gain is >36 db! OSA antenna gain is 10 db lower!
    So if BARS is upgraded to similar power TWT, or even lower, it can match or exceed IRBIS.

  16. to August 29, 2009 3:57 AM;

    If so, what was the TWS/engagement figures before RC1 RC2 installation?

  17. I dont remember engaged figures, but TWS was 10.

  18. Maybe the BARS in the Su-30MKI is a scaled down version?

  19. to anon September 14, 2009 12:17 AM:

    It's impossible per definition, because BARS was exclusively designed for India, and has no any 'domestic' variant.

  20. Igorr said it.

    The Bars for India is more powerful than the baseline Russian version which did not have RC1 and RC2. It took Phase 3 for the Bars to reach its full potential with RC1 and RC2. India has also exported the RC1 and RC2 to Malaysia and Algeria (for the Bars) and the contract with Algeria also includes upgraded display processors and software.

    Irbis-E is currently more powerful than Bars, Phase 3. But upgraded Bars, as planned for MKI may be more powerful/equal to Irbis-E, if we consider released aims for performance.

  21. Very great information.

    Igor, do you have any news on software they have been using for PAK-FA avionics, computer chips , and which programming languages, etc Russian will use for their works?

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