Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR AUG 2014 Contents 31
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 01 | AUG 2014
Chinese and Russian
radar may be able to detect
US stealth technology
US FIGHTERS – like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35
Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – are protected by stealth
technology optimised for higher frequency targeting radars but
not for lower frequency radars.
Until now, a focus on higher frequencies has not been a problem
because low frequency radars have traditionally been unable to
generate ‘weapons quality tracks’.
JSF and the F-22 are protected from higher frequencies in the
Ku, X, C and parts of the S bands. But both jets can be seen on
enemy radars operating in the longer wavelengths like L, UHF
In other words, Russian and Chinese radars can generally
detect a stealth aircraft but not clearly enough to give an accurate
location to a missile
But that is starting to change.
“Acquisition and fire control radars are starting to creep down
the frequency spectrum,” a former senior USN official said in late
July. With improved computing power, low frequency radars are
getting better and better at discerning targets more precisely.
“I don’t see how you long survive in the world of 2020 or 2030
when dealing with these systems if you don’t have the lower fre-
quency coverage,” the former official said.
Further, new foreign rival warships are increasingly being built
with both high and low frequency radars.
“Prospective adversaries are putting low frequency radars on
their surface combatants along with the high-
er frequency systems,” the former official said.
Chinese warships like the Type 52C
Luyang II and new Type 52D Luyang III
guided missile destroyers have both high and
low frequency radars, the former official said.
“If you don’t have the signature appropriate
to that [radar], you’re not going to be very
survivable,” he said.
“The lower frequency radars can cue the
higher frequency radars and now you’re going to get wacked.”
Nor will the USN’s vaunted Naval Integrated Fire Con-
trol-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) do much to help the situation.
Firstly, given the proliferation of low frequency radars, there are
serious questions about the ability of the F-35C’s survivability
against the toughest of air defenses, the former official said.
“All-aspect is highly desirable against this sort of networked
[anti-air] environment,” he said.
Secondly, the Chinese and Russians are almost certain to use
cyber and electronic attack capabilities to disrupt NIFC-CA,
which is almost totally reliant on data links.
“I question how well all these data links are going to work in a
heavily contested [radio frequency] environment where you have
lots and lots of jamming going on,” the former official said.
Moreover, in certain parts of the world potential adversaries
– China and Russia – are developing long-range anti-radiation
missiles that could target the central node
of the NIFC-CA network – the Northrop
Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
“I think the anti-radiation homing weap-
ons that are passive and go long-range are
very, very difficult for the NIFC-CA concept
to contend with,” the former official said.
Fundamentally, the Navy’s lack of an
all-aspect broadband stealth jet on the carrier
flight deck is giving fuel to advocates of a
high-end Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance
and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft that can tackle the toughest enemy
Without such capability, the Navy’s carrier fleet will fade into
irrelevance, the former official said. – Dave Majumdar
A growing trend in Russian and
Chinese radar could make US
stealth fighters easier to see and –
more importantly – easier to target
for potential adversaries, a former
senior US Navy (USN) official said
in a report by USNI News.
I DON’T SEE
HOW YOU LONG
SURVIVE IN THE
WORLD OF 2020
This article was originally published on 30 July 2014 and is reproduced with
permission from USNI News. Visit USNI News at www.news.usni.org
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s stealth superiority
may not stay that way as Chinese and Russian
radar technology evolves and improves.
Image: US Navy
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