New Delhi: India is about to launch the long-delayed Super Sukhoi program. 4 billion USD has already been requested by the Indian Ministry of Defence. 150 fighters out of 260 operationally ready Su-30MKI will go through complete modernization.
The Super Sukhoi program was supposed to start nearly two years ago. In 2022, Russian troops invaded Ukraine and this delayed the plans of the Indian Air Command. However, the time has come for a change, and seeing the threat from China, India is ready to invest in the backbone of its Air Force.
The modernization will mainly affect the replacement of electronics, sensors, and weapons. Realistically, if the program is completed on time, India will have a better Su-30 than the original manufacturer – the USSR/Russia. What is worth paying attention to is the replacement of the obsolete Soviet N011M Bars radar with a locally developed AESA version.
N011M Bars PESA radar
The N011M Bars is the oldest radar from the Bars family that began its existence in the 1980s. The radar has two separate electronically controlled arrays with a peak power output of 4-5 kW. Within 400 microseconds he positioned his beams.
As a basis, it is assumed that Russian engineers used their experience from the N007 Zaslon to design the Bars radar. However, over the years, Russian specialists have changed the design of the antenna. I.e. from an electronically scanned [phased array] they made the N011M Bars multichannel passive electronically scanned array [PESA] antenna.
±70 degrees in azimuth and ±45 degrees in elevation are the scanning capabilities of the N011M Bars. However, these characteristics are valid at a fixed position. Later, the Russians realized that the radar could improve its performance. So they mounted the N011M Bars on an electromechanical drive changing the scanning capabilities to ±90 degrees.
During a mission
400 km is the maximum search range of the N011M Bars during a mission. However, this is not the case with the rear tracking and scanning feature. When the Su-30MKI has to track a target, the range is halved, i.e. 200 km. From behind, the radar range is only 60 km.
The N011M Bars can intercept four air targets by directly engaging them. Radar, however, has triple the tracking potential – up to 16 aerial targets at once.
During air-to-ground missions ie. detection of ground targets, the current radar of the Indian Su-30 can operate at a range of up to 60 km. However, the Russians years ago updated the Su-30MKI and increased the range to 120 km. Real beam, Doppler beam, or synthetic aperture radar is used by N011M Bars to perform the land surface mapping.
Uttam AESA Radar
Uttam AESA radar is the new radar to be integrated into India’s Su-30MKI. It was presented for the first time in 2019 during an exhibition in India. In recent years, Indians have been working hard on its improvement. Apparently, they have already reached the final stage.
This radar will be integrated not only into India’s Soviet-made Su-30 MKI but also into India’s indigenous Tedajs fighter jet, as well as some other air weapon systems of India. As India intends to develop its own fifth-generation fighter jet, this radar, but in an enlarged and improved version, will also be integrated into the HAL AMSA project aircraft.
Water-cooled quad-frequency modules are at the heart of the Uttam. The radar can track 50 targets at a distance greater than 100 km while engaging 4 targets simultaneously. The radar will be able to work in several modes simultaneously. It has an integrated pulse doppler, which will improve the launch capabilities.
High ECM immunity, ultra-low side-lobe antenna, flexible interfaces, fast-neam agile system and modular hardware and software, high mission reliability, and IFF modes are some of the new features of the radar.