Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Future DoD Airborne HF Radar Needs/Resources   [open pdf - 3MB]

The Defense Science Board Task Force was formed to address questions related to the development of X-band, active, electronically steered arrays (AESAs) for airborne platforms. Areas focused on were advanced radar capabilities for ground targets and air targets. The Task Force found that the state of the art in airborne X-band AESAs has moved impressively in the last decade due to several prototyping efforts and the JSF Dem Val technology push. Factors of 3 to 5 or more in weight and cost reductions can be supported along with innovations in mechanical design to simplify manufacturability and maintenance. Transmit/receive modules are approaching commodity status, albeit with limited component suppliers. For a given size and weight, AESA technology provides a factor of 10-30 times more net radar capability than competing approaches due to power increases, lower losses, and increased flexibility. Also, AESA designs provide inherently superior countermeasure resistance, enhanced range resolution (for target identification), and more flexibility to support nontraditional radar modes such as jamming and ESM. In addition, AESA technology supports high reliability/low maintenance designs with the promise of attractive life cycle costs. These advantages are so compelling that it is unlikely that any new U.S. fighter radar will be procured in the future without AESA technology. It is the assessment of the Task Force that the technology of X-band AESAs is mature and ready for insertion, with little risk, into the existing ground surveillance radars on JSTARS (i.e., RTIP), the U-2 (i.e., ASARS Improvement Program), and Global Hawk. The Task Force strongly supports the development of an X-band AESA for the Global Hawk in the near term.

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