– Aman Routray

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken a significant step in bolstering its air defence capabilities by releasing a Request for Information (RFI) for the procurement of Medium Range Radars (MPR) from registered Indian vendors. This procurement falls under the Buy (Indian-Indian IDDM) and Buy (Indian) categories, emphasizing the nation’s focus on indigenous defense manufacturing and technology development.

The MPRs are intended for Air Defence Surveillance, a critical aspect of modern aerial warfare. The technical specifications outlined in the RFI reflect the IAF’s requirements for state-of-the-art radar systems that can operate effectively in diverse environmental conditions and challenging terrains.

Key specifications and capabilities sought by the IAF include:

  1. 4D Active Phased Array System based on GaN: The radar system should leverage cutting-edge technology such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) for enhanced performance and reliability. Active Phased Array Systems offer advanced radar capabilities, including rapid beam scanning and multi-target tracking.
  2. Solid State T/R Modules: The use of Solid State Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules ensures robustness and longevity of the radar system, contributing to sustained operational effectiveness.
  3. Integrated IFF System: The radar should include an Integrated Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, a critical feature for distinguishing between friendly and hostile aircraft, enhancing situational awareness and operational safety.
  4. 360º Coverage: The radar system is expected to provide a comprehensive 360-degree coverage, ensuring no blind spots in the Air Situation Picture. This capability is crucial for early detection and tracking of potential threats.
  5. Stare Mode Operation: The radar should have the ability for stare mode operation, allowing continuous surveillance of specific areas of interest for extended periods, facilitating enhanced threat detection and monitoring.
  6. Drone Detection Capability: In addition to primary surveillance functions, the radar system should incorporate an X-band radar co-mounted with the main antenna specifically for drone detection. This reflects the evolving nature of threats in modern warfare, including the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  7. Mobility and Transportability: The MPRs are required to be vehicle-mounted and capable of mobility across all terrains, ensuring flexibility and adaptability in deployment scenarios. Moreover, they should be air transportable for rapid deployment to strategic locations as per operational requirements.
  8. Independent Energy System: The radar system should feature an independent Energy System with Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and captive power capabilities, enabling sustained operations even in high-altitude environments.
  9. Graceful Degradation: The system should support ‘Graceful Degradation,’ ensuring that any operational issues or component failures do not disproportionately impact the overall detection capability. This resilience is vital for maintaining operational readiness in dynamic and challenging situations.
  10. Commissioning Timeline: The IAF has outlined an ambitious timeline for the commissioning of the MPRs, with an envisaged rate of 12-18 radars per year. This reflects the urgency and priority placed on enhancing air defence capabilities within a defined timeframe.

The procurement of these advanced Medium Range Radars underscores India’s commitment to modernizing its defence infrastructure and leveraging indigenous expertise in developing cutting-edge technologies. It also aligns with the broader national strategy of promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing and fostering a robust ecosystem of domestic defence suppliers.

As the procurement process progresses, collaboration between the IAF and Indian defence industry stakeholders will play a crucial role in ensuring the successful acquisition and integration of these sophisticated radar systems, ultimately enhancing the nation’s air defence readiness and capabilities.

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