An active electronically scanned array (AESA) is a sort of phased array antenna that uses computer control to electronically steer the radio wave beam to point in various directions without moving the antenna. Each antenna element in the AESA is linked to a micro-sized transmit/receive module (TRM) that is controlled by a computer and serves as the antenna's transmitter and/or receiver. Active phased array radar is the term for the primary application of AESA in radar (APAR).
The AESA is capable of concurrently emitting numerous radio wave beams at various frequencies. AESA radars can emit powerful radar signals while yet being stealthy and are more resistant to jamming as they can spread their signal emissions across a larger range of frequencies, which makes them harder to detect over background noise.
What is Radar?
The communications technology known as radar, or radio detection and ranging, uses radio waves to locate and identify objects. To communicate with their radio towers, ship captains invented and first used them. They understood that obstructions between the ship and the towers generated interference and prevented them from communicating.
How Do Radars Work?
Radar simply transmits radio waves and then waits for a return signal that makes it a lot like an echo. How far away an object is can be calculated from the time it takes for the waves to return. It also helps in pinpointing the object's location to send waves out from different locations.
Radar systems are typically made up of an antenna, a radio transmitter, and a target for the signals to bounce off of. The antenna transmits signals to a receiver, which amplifies the echoes that are produced when the signals contact objects and show them to the user in a useful, often visual manner.
What is AESA?
A phased array system-composed of a collection of antennas that create a beam of radio waves that can be pointed in various directions without physically changing the antennae themselves—is what Active Electronically Scanned Arrays are. The majority of AESA technology is employed in radar systems.
ASEA technology initially appeared in the early 1960s in the passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar, a solid state system that takes a signal from a single source and employs phase shifter modules to selectively delay some sections of the signal while allowing others to transmit without delay. This kind of signal transmission can result in a variety of signal shapes, which successfully point the signal beam in various directions.
The earliest AESA systems, which offered several advantages over the more established PESA systems, were created in the 1980s. In contrast to a PESA, which employs a single transmitter/receiver module, an AESA employs a number of transmitter/receiver modules that are connected to the antenna components and are capable of simultaneously producing numerous radar beams at various frequencies.
AESA systems are being utilized to deliver enhanced situational awareness on a variety of military platforms, including drones and military aircraft.
AESA Radar Advantages
- Resistance to Electronic Jamming
An AESA system's high level of resistance to electronic jamming techniques is one of its main advantages. Finding the frequency at which an enemy radar is broadcasting and then delivering a signal to confuse it are the typical steps in radar jamming.
AESA systems are capable of "chirping," a radar technology that distributes frequencies throughout a wide band and even within individual pulses, in addition to changing frequencies. Due to the combination of these characteristics, AESA systems are far more difficult to jam than other types of radar.
It is also unlikely that an adversary radar warning receiver will intercept an AESA system (RWR). When a radar beam from an external source has hit an aircraft or vehicle, an RWR enables it to know. The enemy's location can then be ascertained by determining the beam's origin. For overcoming RWRs, AESA systems are highly effective.
Another advantage of employing AESA systems is that although each module runs independently, a failure in one module won't significantly affect the operation of the entire system. High-bandwidth data communications between aircraft and other equipped equipment can be established using AESA technology.
The system can perform a wide range of activities due to the numerous modes supported by this radar technology, including:
- Real beam mapping
- Sea surface search
- Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mapping
- Air-to-air search and track
- Ground-moving target indication and tracking
The Future of the AESA Radar
As mentioned in the blog earlier, the size and cost of AESAs have lowered as technology has developed. As a result, AESA has been incorporated into several nations' existing ground-based, maritime, and aviation systems.
Global contractors are trying hard to meet demand as countries all over the globe integrate AESA radar into their military planes and ships. Simply put, modern conventional militaries are inoperable without AESA. It is now a requirement and will spread more widely as time goes on.