Uttam AESA

An Alpha Defense Exclusive

Electronic Warfare (EW) Test on Uttam AESA

-Subodh Sharma and Aman

The Radar that will change the way by which Indian airforce plans its weapons onboard all its fighter jet, is all set to start its electronic warfare testing. In a latest development, the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) is in process of fabrication of another unit of “Uttam” AESA Radar that will be mounted on the flying test bed.

– Alpha Defense

Earlier it was reported, an existing unit of Uttam AESA was moved from flying test bed to a limited series production unit of Light combat aircraft Tejas. The radar was tested for all the air-to-air modes and next in line was air-to-ground modes testing.  Now, the Defence Research and Deployment Organization (DRDO) is getting ready to test Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities of Uttam AESA. This indicates either air-to-ground tests of Uttam AESA radar are completed or to meet the certification timelines, parallel testing will be started.

What is the latest update on Uttam AESA?

The flying test bed designed to test various airborne sensors will receive a new unit of Uttam AESA which is under fabrication. DRDO is renting a long-range detection and tracking radar to test the electronic warfare capabilities of this AESA radar. The radar mounted on the flying test bed will be pitted against ground-based radar systems and various electronic warfare capabilities will be tested and validated.

This marks a new beginning in the lifecycle of Uttam AESA Development. Once validated this system will be all set to go on 21st unit of Tejas Mk1A. The overused term “Game Changer” will be applicable here with full justification. This AESA radar will become new standard for Indian fighter jets.

Why Uttam AESA is important?

The Uttam AESA is modular and scalable radar, this radar can be optimized for any aircraft in the inventory of Indian airforce. The performance of the fighter jet can be enhanced significantly by replacing any existing radar with Uttam AESA. The power requirement of this radar is comparatively lower, this will allow most of the current inventory of the Indian airforce to get this radar, without change in power plant.

The Uttam AESA integration will allow Indian airforce to integrate any weapon system to its fighter jets. With indigenous fire control radar, weapons of Indian origin, western origin and Russian origin can be easily integrated.

Improved Version(Uttam AESA Mk1A)   

The configuration of transmitter and receiver (TR) module used in Uttam is called “Quad”. In this configuration four transmitter and receiver are packed in a compact package called as “Quad”. These quads are then organised in a planer array called as “Plank”. This “Quad” and “Plank” configuration has enabled better packaging of transmitter and receiver modules, this allows the improved Uttam AESA to have more TR modules for the same nose cone size.

This improved Uttam AESA packaging will be used on Tejas Mk1A and Tejas MK2. The number of transmitter and receiver modules in these fighter jet will be more 950. This configuration will allow the fighter to have longer range with same nose cone side. However, this will present cooling challenges.

Although it appears Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has addressed the cooling challenges already and this configuration is all set to be “Sense Organ” for Tejas Mk1 A (21st Serial Production unit onwards).
Picture Credit : Kuntal Biswas

We at Alpha Defense first broke this exclusive update that DRDO is also working on developing a next generation Uttam AESA with same “Quad” and “Plank” configuration but with Gallium Nitride TR Modules.

It’s a known fact that “Gallium Nitride” (GaN) offers better performance over Gallium Arsenide (GaAs). DRDO has already started working on this niche technology and now they are in process of identifying a vendor who can fabricate these under mass production contract.

This indicates that technology is not only developed, but also now its mature enough to enter mass production. It is believed that Advance Medium Combat Aircraft will be flying with a version that will have GaN TRM.

Though one will for sure have a question

When the technology is entering mass production, why can’t it be used on Tejas Mk2?


Atmanirbhar in True sense

If the efforts aren’t channelized in right direction in well-coordinated way, then call for “Atmanirbhar Bharat” will just remain as hollow slogan. Uttam in true sense is a manifestation of efforts towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Once this Radar is operational, it will pave the way for true self-reliance in this segment.

Uttam will not just make IAF more indigenous but will also provide them the much-needed flexibility of picking and choosing the weapon system “they” want for “their” fighter jets.

– Alpha Defense

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

2 thoughts on “Electronic Warfare (EW) Test on Uttam AESA”
  1. Thanks for bringing the point of cooling into the discussion. As often while being discussed in circles of people without complete technical thoroughness in social media platforms or forums(Which includes me as well), the aspect of cooling is kind of under valued. I mean people comment on increasing TRMs and Engine power and nose shape-size constraints. But then all this without really valuing the cooling mechanism, its complexity and other aspects. Great work as always, keep going. Best wishes to Alpha Defense team.

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