The Indian Armed Forces are expected to induct radars worth over $ 8.5 billion in the next decade as a host of defence public sector units as well as local and international private sector contribute to its growing demand. According to Director (R&D) of state-run Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Mr. I.V. Sharma, the current phase is the golden age for radars in India as various indigenous developmental projects for radars and associated equipment as well as international acquisitions are taking place.
As for some of the crucial projects being carried out indigenously, these include the development of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to be fitted on the proposed Light Combat Aircraft-MK II as well as a unique "Through Wall Imaging Radar". Both these radars are being developed by Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), a Bangalore-based DRDO lab. The AESA radar is for homegrown LCA-MK II and this radar is expected to be flight-worthy and proven in all aspects in a couple of years. Besides, India has initiated the integration of the indigenously-built Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system with the Brazilian Embraer EMB-145 I aircraft which India is acquiring. The EMB-145I aircraft has been modified to carry the Indian-made Active Array Antenna Unit (AAAU) mounted atop the plane's fuselage.
Besides the above-mentioned radars, state-run DRDO lab LRDE is also readying a new generation of multi-function radars which can be integrated with any weapon system to provide surveillance, early warning, interception guidance and raid assessment. These include a medium power radar called "Arudra”, a low-level transportable 150 kilometer radar and a synthetic aperture radar to be developed in about three years, LRDE Director S. Varadarajan indicated. These new radars, including the medium power and low-level transportable radar, will be broad-based so that they can be integrated into any weapons system, LRDE Director added. LRDE has also developed the multi-function weapon control radar "Rajendra”, but this was integrated with the Akash weapon system.
The DRDO-run lab LRDE has been focusing on innovations such as multi-function radars since they can be appropriated for multiple functions and missions. The indigenous technology is progressing well for radars and systems and both the public and private sector can see potential business in it. Since the technology is at hand, various tie-ups within the Indian industry are heightening the supply for India’s huge requirement for radars for surveilance in hostile terrains. In addition, DRDO has also developed 3-D radar systems. The DRDO's successful Central Acquisition Radar (CAR) is for use with Akash surface-to-air missiles and is capable of tracking 150 targets. From the CAR, two variants have been developed. The "Rohini” radar is the IAF variant and the "Revathi” is for the Indian Navy. A third variant, known as the 3-D Tactical Control Radar for the Indian Army is also being produced.
According to sources, US defence and aerospace major Raytheon is also talking to the IAF regarding airborne surveillance and reconnaissance radars that would be used along India's borders. Raytheon has received two RFIs from the IAF but India has not decided whether to go for an Active Electronically Scanned Array system or a Mechanically Scanned Arrangement.Meanwhile, the Indian navy has issued an RFI for 3-D radars to enhance the surveillance capability of warships. The 3-D radars will be deployed on ships more than 3,000 tons to provide 360-degree surveillance to detect aircraft, helicopters and incoming anti-ship missiles.