Active electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars offer a number of important benefits. By focusing individual elements very quickly and precisely without having to move them physically, and with little signal “leakage” outside of its focused beam, AESA radars gain improved reliability, power, and the ability to “timeshare” by switching from mode to mode fast enough to operate different modes at once. They also have potential applications in electronic warfare, and recent research indicates significant potential for secure, high-bandwidth communications. At present, the USA is the only country that has AESA radars operating on fighter aircraft, though projects are underway in Britain, and in other areas, European battlefield surveillance radars and NATO’s AGS project aim to field such radars shortly.
European countries continue to work to close the gap…
Saab Microwave Systems AB, Selex Sistemi Integrati S.p.A and Elettronica S.p.A. were recently awarded the second phase of a three phase Research and Development Program supporting the development of the next generation of microwave multi-function, multi-role systems called M-AESA (Multi-role Active Electronically Scanned Antenna).
On behalf of the armed forces of Italy and Sweden, the FMV (Swedish Defence Materiel Administration), has signed contracts with the three companies Selex Sistemi Integrati S.p.A., Elettronica S.p.A. and Saab Microwave Systems AB for Phase 2 of a 3-phase long-term strategic R&D effort regarding radar and electronic warfare (EW). The program will be fully financed by the two countries. The President of Saab Microwave Systems AB referred to efforts that would “…greatly enhance our joint possibilities to achieve the product vision of a true multi-role electronics package capable of active and passive sensing, jamming and special communications.” That last bit is especially interesting in light of recent US developments, and in the short term the program is meant to “contribute to the development of multifunction radar and EW systems.”
The second phase comprises system architecture definitions and technology studies and development, as well as defining and planning the Phase 3 prototype development and testing.
Saab’s release says that:
“The introduction of M-AESA technology, comprising digital beam forming, will enable great increase in future microwave systems performance. The M-AESA benefits include the ability to detect, track and identify small targets in complex environment, to detect, track, identify and jam emitter and communication threats, thus providing the possibility to design flexible multipurpose electronics in advanced platforms. The multipurpose electronics include functions from radar, electronic warfare, as well as communications.”