Category Archives: FLIR Systems

Agile Beams: Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars

AESAs aim their "beam" by broadcasting radio energy that interfere constructively at certain angles in front of the antenna. They improve on the older passive electronically scanned radars by spreading their broadcasts out across a band of frequencies, which makes it very difficult to detect over background noise. AESAs allow ships and aircraft to broadcast powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy. Above is AESA on F22

The AN/APG-77 is a multifunction radar installed on the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. It is one of the most advanced radar today. More than 100 APG-77 AESA radars have been produced to date by Northrop Grumman, and much of the technology developed for the APG-77 is being used in the APG-81 radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The APG-77v1 was installed on F-22 Raptors from Lot 5 and on. This provided full air-to-ground functionality (high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping, ground moving target indication and track (GMTI/GMTT), automatic cueing and recognition, combat identification, and many other advanced features).

APG-77 is based on Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) technology. The AESA includes multiple individual active transmit/receive (T/R) elements within the antenna. Depending upon the precise implementation, there may be anywhere between 1000 and 2000 of these individual T/R elements which, together with the RF feed, comprise the AESA antenna. As for the passive ESA, these elements are highly redundant and the radar can continue to operate with a sizeable percentage of the devices inoperative. This graceful redundancy feature means that the radar antenna is extremely reliable; it has been claimed that an AESA antenna will outlast the host aircraft. The fact that the transmitter elements reside in the antenna itself means there is no standalone transmitter – there is an exciter but that is all. As before, there is clearly a need for a receiver as well as an RDP and signal processor. The active T/R elements are controlled in the same way as the phase shifters on the passive ESA, either by using a beam-steering computer (BSC) or by embedding the beam-steering function in the RDP.

The ability to control many individual T/R modules by software means confers the AESA with immense flexibility of which only a few examples are: First each radiating element may be controlled in terms of amplitude and phase, and this provides superior beam-shaping capabilities for advanced radar modes such as terrainfollowing, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR (ISAR) modes. Secondly Multiple independently steered beams may be configured using partitioned parts of the multidevice array. Thirdly If suitable care is taken in the design of the T/R module, independent steerable beams operating on different frequencies may be accommodated and Finally The signal losses experienced by the individual T/R cell approach used in the AESA also bring considerable advantages in noise reduction, and this is reflected in improved radar performance.

The AN/APG-80 system is described as "agile beam", and can perform air-to-air, search-and-track, air-to-ground targeting and aircraft terrain-following functions simultaneously and for multiple targets. As a SAR system utilizing NG's fourth-generation transmitter/receiver technologies, it has a higher reliability and twice the range of older, mechanically-scanned AN/APG-68 radar systems. Above is F-16 APG-80 Radar

One dramatic improvement is the noise figure; it is especially significant achieving such an improvement so early in the RF front end. This results in a remarkable range improvement for the AESA radar. A number of US fighter aircraft are being fitted or retrofitted with AESA radars, these are F-22 Raptor, F-18E/F (Upgrade version) fitted with AN/APG-79, F-16E/F (Block 60) fitted with AN/APG-80, F-15 and F-35 fitted with AN/APG-81. Taking for example F-16, it is interesting to see a dofference in performance between two batches (Block 50) and Block 60. Former had target detection radar range of 50 miles, which was improved to 70 miles with AESA radards (for reference F-22 covers 125miles range). The F-16 Block 60 (now the F-16E/F) shows an improvement from 45 to 70 nm (þ55%), while the F-15C range has increased from 60 to 90 nm (þ50%). Apart from the obvious improvement in range, it has been stated by a highly authentic source that AESA radar confers 10–30 times more in radar operational capability compared with a conventional radar (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force, 2001).

The F-16E (single seat) and F-16F (two seat) are newer F-16 variants. The Block 60 version is based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52 and has been developed especially for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It features improved AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, avionics, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and the more powerful GE F110-132 engine. However the batch bought by Pakistan Air Force (F-16C/D) is equipped with AN/APG-68 (V)9 Radar Systems. Only the Block 60 aircraft, destined for the UAE, are to be equipped with a more advanced version – the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The APG-68(V)9 offers 30 percent increase in detection range, improved search-while-track mode (four vs. two tracked targets) and larger search volume and improved track while scan performance. Its single target track performance has also been improved. On air/ground missions, the new radar becomes an effective sensor, utilizing its high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mode, which allows the pilot to locate and recognize tactical ground targets from considerable distances. Although previous radars had some Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities, the new version generates imagery-class (2 feet resolution) high resolutions pictures, comparable to pictures delivered by the most modern commercial satellites. These pictures can be acquired from very long range, at all weather conditions and provide an effective, real-time source for the targeting of long range, precision guided weapons. The radar also has increased detection range in sea surveillance mode, and enhanced ground moving target identification and mappinc capability. The radar features an inertial measurement unit that improves dynamic tracking performance and provides an auto-boresight capability, which increases accuracy.

2 Comments

Filed under AESA, APG-68, APG-80, Electronic Warfare, F-16, F-22, F-22 raptor, F-35, F/A-18, Fifth Generation Combat Aircraft, Flight Simulation, FLIR Systems, Foreign Office Pakistan, Lockheed martin F-16, Pakistan, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Air Force F16, Pakistan Air Force JF 17, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan Defence, Pakistan-Afghnistan Border, RADAR, Radars, Radio Frequency, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aviation, Sixth Generation Fighter Jet, US Department of Defense, US Navy

Defence Market Speculation: Boom and Bust in Aerospace Industry

Following piece is written by Rick Whittington, taken from Aerospace And Defense Picks For 2011 (17-12-10). Recently both UK and USA defence budgets were revised with further revision in defence policies. Recent retirement of RAF’s Harrier, and delays in F-35 has created a big gap within RAF inventory. Not only that Both BAe Systems and Rolls Royce has seen declines after recent Qanatas Incident. From civilian market, Seattle Time cites that as Boeing prepares to announce yet another delay for the 787 Dreamliner — at least three months, possibly six or more — the crucial jet program is in even worse shape than it appears. A top Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official 10 days ago warned Boeing that without further proof of the plane’s reliability, it won’t be certified to fly the long intercontinental routes that airlines expect it to serve. Since then share prices are on continuous decline for Boeing. Among the 787’s lesser ongoing problems is “rain in the plane,” the term used for heavy condensation dripping inside the jet’s composite plastic fuselage. Yet that issue is piddling compared with the major flaws that have brought a wave of successive delays. Earlier this month, John Hickey, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, visited Seattle and warned 787 executives that in the current state of the program, the jet cannot be certified for long-distance transocean and transpolar flights, according to a person familiar with the details. More on B787 can be found HERE

A fiscally focused trend in U.S. politics means defense spending may drop in 2011. Which aerospace companies will bust and which will boom regardless? Secular change in the U.S. political landscape augurs poorly for defense fundamentals, with fiscal rectitude offsetting China’s brusque ascent on the world scene–an ascent that would otherwise dictate modernization to offset an increasingly sophisticated major power. Following a near decade of above-trend reports, earnings of military suppliers are set for several difficult years, as hard-won margin gains in the Bush years reverse, revenues reduce and backlogs diminish. Just how far the decline will carry remains largely out of public view, as long-range budget details are classified, but Washington circles are already abuzz with steep funding drops in weapons modernization and force structure.

The company's original internal target for its own development costs was $5 billion. But with yet another delay, several Wall Street analysts estimate that fixing the litany of manufacturing problems, plus paying penalties to suppliers and airlines, has piled on an additional $12 billion to $18 billion.

Ongoing budget review, which in Washington goes on all year, is already producing shock waves in contractor circles as word leaks out of the bad news ahead. Actually, many had figured out the deteriorating trend two years ago when a new administration was swept into power, but most held their breath hoping the worst case wouldn’t develop. Unfortunate for the bull case, however, the Republican tidal wave this past election is distinctly tinged with fiscal austerity, with national security taking a back seat. The deleterious impact on defense contractors has finally begun trickling into Wall Street views and the stocks are rolling over.

Pure-play suppliers that have most benefited from the longest conflict in American history–the Revolution’s eight-year employment of Washington’s Continentals has been surpassed by forces in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan–are highly vulnerable to the downsizing that lies ahead. The likes of Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon ( RTN – news – people ), L-3 and General Dynamics ( GD – news – people ) face big funding cuts that seriously compromise earnings integrity and could even create black holes necessitating serious corporate restructuring. Past periods like this have seen steep valuation discounts for the pure-plays.

On the other hand, commercial aviation and industrial infrastructure companies continue to guide up as the business cycle recovery of nearly two years ago gains steam. U.S. business confidence began improving as Congress promised to change hands, meaning additional unfriendly legislation was averted and commerce-centric policies were brought to center stage. Tax cuts will now be followed up with fiscal restraint, incenting hiring and fixed investment projects. Until money measurably tightens, a virtuous cycle encompassing developed world capital goods exporters and consumers will continue to fuel aggregate demand and push earnings higher.

Many think the best plays are in emerging markets, as their growth is much stronger than in far larger, developed economies. Our view, however, turns this consensus perspective on its head, seeing domestic U.S. equities as the preferred plays where they derive principal impetus from global growth. Our favorites include a host of commercial aviation and industrial suppliers that benefit from rising trade flows, demand for aircraft passenger travel and freight. Multi-industry aerospace and industrial companies bring the best of both worlds.

Delay-plagued Boeing ( BA – news – people ) will eventually right the 787 and surmount prior decade outsourcing and partnering decisions that have severely hampered program efficacy. As investors await word on when flight tests will resume and the extent to which deliveries are rescheduled, good news from other quarters is helping offset the latest disappointments. Increased production of other airliner models enjoying strong margins, notably the 777 but also 737 and a re-engineered 747, as well as price hikes combine with ongoing reports of airline profitability and upgraded air traffic forecasts.

Then, there’s also some good news unique to Boeing on the defense front. Overseas sales of fighter aircraft and helicopters to Saudi Arabia and possibly India combine with potentially quite consequential F-35 delays and new generation satellites for both government and commercial customers. As the Chinese build increasingly advanced twin-engine fighters, the U.S. and its Asian allies must confront single-engine, multi-mission F-35s without commensurate aerial superiority. With the F-22 now cancelled and its production base dismantled, there’s no ready response other than more Boeing F-18s. The Navy is already getting extras and we’d guess others will line up behind.

Tag along suppliers to Boeing and Airbus, as well as a handful of business and regional jet makers, include predominantly civil aviation oriented Goodrich ( GR – news – people ), BE Aerospace ( BEAV – news – people ) and Spirit AeroSystems. Spanning a broad gamut of advanced capital goods and industrial materials are diversified suppliers Precision Castparts ( PCP – news – people ), United Technologies ( UTX – news – people ), Honeywell ( HON – news – people ), Eaton and Parker-Hannifin, each a proxy for global infrastructure growth. United Tech and Honeywell just issued bullish 2011 initial views that will likely see upsides as the New Year rolls out.

Then there are companies with greater military exposure, such as electro-mechanical automation supplier Moog, advanced composites supplier Hexcel ( HXL – news – people ) and electronics-denominated navigation, communications and avionics specialist Rockwell-Collins. Each of these should see non-defense segments outweigh prospective cuts in military spending. Other mixed suppliers straddling the two worlds that will have a more difficult time in the years ahead include Esterline, FLIR Systems ( FLIR – news – people ) and AAR Corporation ( AIR – news – people ). These shares could face growing headwinds, especially as U.S. troops begin to draw down in Afghanistan.

Leave a comment

Filed under AAR Corporation, Aerobatics, Afghanistan, Africa, Air Defence, Airbus A310-300, Aviation, Bae Systems, Barak Obama, Boeing, Boeing 737 next generation, Boeing 787, F-35, FLIR Systems, General Dynamics, Goodrich, Moog, Northrop-Grumman, Qantas, Saudi Arab, Seattle Times, Spirit AeroSystems, US Navy