The home grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is set to be equipped with Israeli super radars that will give it the combat edge to engage multiple air and ground targets simultaneously. Israeli firm ELTA is likely to shortly bag an order for a new set of AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars for an air force order of 83 LCA Mk 1A jets.
The Israeli firm appears to have beat off competition from French firm Thales for the contract that has been in the works since 2016. Sources said that advanced negotiations are now on to finalise the contract at the earliest for early delivery of the combat enhanced jets to the Indian Air Force.
The ELTA radar is a derivate of the EL/M-2052 Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) that has also been equipped onboard the Jaguar DARIN III fighter jets of the air force. It has been selected for the LCA program ahead of the French Thales RBE2 radar derivative. Earlier, other suitors including the Americans and Swedes dropped out of the competition.
The integration of an AESA radar is a pre requisite to the air force order that also mandates equipping the fighters with beyond visual range missiles and an electronic warfare suite. The radars give much more range and engagement potential to fighters, enabling them to engage targets from a distance without getting detected. The AESA will give the LCA an edge over fighter of a similar weight category that are operating in the region with conventional radars.
The Jaguar DARIN III is India’s first fighter jet to be equipped with AESA radars with 58 of them being integrated currently onto the fleet. The deep penetration fighter fleet got a big upgrade with the new radars, significantly increasing the air force’s capability to carry out cross border strikes.
AESA radars have replaced conventional systems at the heart of all modern fighter aircraft – be it the Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A 18 other than fifth generation jets like the F 22 and F 35.