China offers anti-stealth radars for export

11 November 2016
Chinese anti-stealth radars on display at the Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai. From left to right are the JY-27A, YLC-8B, and SLC-7. Source: Via

China's principal radar manufacturer, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), exhibited at Airshow China 2016 a number of air defence radars it claims can detect low-observable aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighters.

Chinese news media reported that these radars are being marketed for export to any country with a requirement to counter such stealth capabilities.

While the 2016 air show in Zhuhai is not the first venue CETC has exhibited such hardware at, the equipment on display reflects in part the claim made by some Chinese commentators that China has become the world leader in radars capable of detecting stealth aircraft.

Although exhibited in public, data on the performance characteristics to back up the cutting-edge claims is less forthcoming. Anti-stealth radars typically operate at frequencies below 1GHz, because low-observable aircraft are designed to minimise their cross section to radars operating within radio spectrum covered by the IEEE S, C, and X bands (broadly 2-12 GHz).

At lower frequencies, radar reflections increase as the wavelength becomes closer to the physical size of parts of the aircraft and also resonances may be induced in parts of the airframe by the radar pulse, increasing the aircraft's susceptibility to detection and tracking.

The Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET) is at the forefront of CETC's programme and produced two of the units on display at the Zhuhai air show, the YLC-8B and SLC-7.

While the YLC-8B, a 3-D surveillance radar that operates in the IEEE UHF band (300 Mhz-1 GHz), had already been exhibited at Zhuhai in 2014, the SLC-7 made its debut at the show this year.

The SLC-7 operates in the IEEE L-band (1-2 GHz). According to NRIET, the radar electronically scans the phased array in azimuth and elevation and also scans mechanically in azimuth.

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