In surprisingly welcome news coming from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the desi Tejas fighters will be getting a new ‘Made in India’ radar much ahead of schedule. This may be dream come true for the Indian Air Force which will save thousands of crores in expenditure over Israeli radars that will now be replaced with better performing Indian radars. This Guarding India Exclusive covers this good news in detail.
The DRDO chairman Sateesh Reddy has stated that out of 123 Tejas fighters at least 51% will have desi Uttam AESA radar. Currently, IAF has ordered 123 Tejas fighters of which 40 will be of initial operational clearance (IOC) and final operational clearance (FOC) variants while 83 will be in Tejas Mk1A configuration which was ordered in February 2021.
As per earlier plans, IOC and FOC variants of Tejas were supposed to have Israeli Elta EL/M 2032 radars while the 83 Tejas Mk1A fighters were to have Israeli Elta EL/M 2052 Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The latter production versions of Tejas Mk1A fighters were to have desi Uttam AESA radar. However, this arrangement has changed now as DRDO Chairman Sateesh Reddy has informed “We will have the Uttam AESA radar from the 21st TEJAS MK-1A to be produced. Uttam AESA Radar has performed better than anticipated in the trials so far. We’ve already signed an MoU with HAL,”
Therefore, as per this announcement, 63 of the 83 Tejas Mk1A fighters will be equipped with indigenous Uttam AESA radars developed by LRDE (Electronics and Radar Development Establishment), Bangalore. The LRDE has been developing Uttam AESA radar since 2008 and it is currently undergoing rigorous testing. The desi Uttam radar designed to have performance similar to Israeli Elta EL/M 2052 and will be able to comfortable fire both Indian and foreign BVR missiles.
Uttam radar will be using state-of-the-art radar tech to track multiple targets and provide hi-resolution situational awareness pictures to the Tejas pilots, allowing them to ‘Look First and Shoot First’ advantage.
Various media reports have indicated that Uttam AESA radar has already been tested in air-to-air, air-to-sea, and air-to-ground modes while another two modes called navigation or terrain avoidance mode and weather mode to avoid rain-bearing clouds. Furthermore, Uttam AESA radar has a low probability of intercept to avoid being detected by enemy fighters or radar warning receivers (RWRs).
Combined together, all the above-mentioned features make Uttam AESA radar a winning combination as it can detect, classify and track multiple hostile targets. It will allow Tejas Mk1A fighters to use track multiple enemy fighters while engaging a couple of them.
Presently, Uttam AESA radar has already completed 230 hours of airborne testing onboard two Tejas jets (LSP2 and LSP3) beside an executive jet which is most likely the newly inducted DRDO’s Dornier DO-228 aerial platform. Surprisingly, till now, Uttam AESA radar has performed beyond the expectations of DRDO as it has achieved detection ranges more than the original estimates. This windfall gain in terms of the enhanced range has ushered in new enthusiasm and confidence in DRDO. Due to this achievement, HAL will now be ordering only 20 Elta EL/M 2052 AESA radar for Tejas Mk1A fighters.
Finally, Team Guarding India is confident that Uttam AESA radar will not only prove to be an invaluable addition to Tejas Mk1A fighter but also will be a stepping stone towards a much more evolved desi AESA radar one of which will equip Indian fifth-generation fighter AMCA. The Uttam AESA radar will turn desi Tejas fighters into a formidable platform to shoot down Pakistani JF-17 Thunders and Chinese Chengdu J-7, Shenyang J-8, Xi’an JH-7, and Chengdu J-10 fighters.