cooperative radar search via datalink

chuck4

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Modern AESA basically uses microprocessors to coordinate the wave emission from large number of emitters to focus and steer beams. By basic physics the maximum sharpness of the beam is governed by the aperture of the entire emitting array.

With advent of high bandwidth data links between fighters and other platforms, is it possible to coordinate the emissions from many radar arrays in such a way that the radars coorporatively focus and steer a single beam, in effect creating an aperture equal in size to the maximum distance between any pairs of radar arrays in the whole group?

Can 2 F-22's flying at a distance from each other, for example, set up a high speed data link, and then use a single aircraft's processors to control emissions from the radar arrays on both aircraft so that it would be as if the controlling aircraft was emitting a beam twice as powerful as its own individual array can generate, and sharpened using aperture equal to the distance between the two planes?

If the two aircraft were to do this, I believe even if the enemy can intercept the radar emission, its radar warning receivers would localize the emitter not to either of the two F-22's, but to a point between them, thus defeating a substantial part of the function of the radar warning receivers.

Any thoughts?
 

SpudmanWP

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I don't think that there is that much bandwidth at this time.

A hint at future capability is the notional Blk5 F-35 feature called "Cooperative EW".

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Hobbes

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To get an idea of the scope of such a project, take a look at the ALMA observatory. http://www.almaobservatory.org/

Each node in this system sends data at 1-50 Mbit/s, which is a lot to ask of a radio link. You also need precise timing, which depends on the exact distance between the two antennas. Difficult to achieve when both antennas and the target move quickly.
 

chuck4

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Hobbes said:
To get an idea of the scope of such a project, take a look at the ALMA observatory. http://www.almaobservatory.org/

Each node in this system sends data at 1-50 Mbit/s, which is a lot to ask of a radio link. You also need precise timing, which depends on the exact distance between the two antennas. Difficult to achieve when both antennas and the target move quickly.

I don't think data rate is the limitation. I believe F-22's radar array is touted as being able to function as both transmitter and receiver of a wifi node with data rates much higher than 100Mbit/s.

Also, if two planes with sophisticated AESA were to cooperate, each plane's AESA ought to be able to rapidly ping the other to maintain a good relative fix to determine the aperture.
 

SpudmanWP

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How can one F-22 talk to another via AESA and scan for the enemy? They would have to be facing each other and not flying abreast and towards the enemy.
 

chuck4

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SpudmanWP said:
How can one F-22 talk to another via AESA and scan for the enemy? They would have to be facing each other and not flying abreast and towards the enemy.

Originally, F-22 was intended to have 3 AESA arrays, one in the nose facing forward, and two in the cheeks below the cockpit facing side ways, all three controlled by the same processor. giving 270 degree coverage. If this had been done, then the cheek arrays can talk to each other while the planes flew abreast. The space, weight reservation, processor, power, and cooling capacity for all three arrays were built into each F-22, but the actual installation of the cheek arrays were deferred to a later upgrade as temporary cost reduction measure. Later, the deferred plans to install the cheek arrays were quietly dropped from long term upgrade path, along with helmet mounted sights. So right now, F-22 can't talk radar ro radar unless flying at atleast 45 degrees toward each other.

However, can the radar warning receivers on the F-22 act as a high rate data link receiver? If it can, then one F-22 can still in theory command the other in a cooperative radar search by having the leader fly some distance behind the wingman.

However, T-50 is said to be designed for 4 arrays giving spherical radar coverage. So if T-50's radar processors has the capacity, it could in theory use its nose radar to scan and cheek radar to coordinate with other T-50 to provide a vast virtual radar aperture.
 

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