India’s DRDO has said that Tejas Mk-1A fighters will have the homegrown ‘Uttam’ radar, according to reports. The move is in sync with the Modi government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative.
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The first batch of Tejas fighter jets will be equipped with the Uttam radars. Of the 123 Tejas fighters that the Indian Air Force will get, 40 will have Israel’s mechanical radars and 83 will have Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chairman Sateesh Reddy has told Times of India: “We will have the Uttam radar from the 21st Tejas Mk-1A.” This means 20 of the 83 Tejas will have Israeli AESA radars and the 63 will be equipped with Uttam radars. He said Uttam has performed better than anticipated in the trials.
Produced by Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), a DRDO lab in Bengaluru, Uttam is a state-of-the-art AESA radar, which can track multiple targets and take high-resolution pictures.
Uttam’s project director Seshagiri P has said that the radar is being tested on two Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and one executive jet. He told TOI that on the LCAs, testing is for air-to-air mode at present.
“The range of the radar should be almost commensurate to launch a BVR (beyond-visual-range) weapon; it’s specified to be so. But we’re getting a range that’s better than that. We are a couple of sorties away from starting a joint evaluation. After this, it will be ready for user evaluation,” he said.
Uttam’s three basic modes – air-to-air, air-to-sea, and air-to-ground – have been tested on the executive jet. “The same needs to be ported on LCA and checked for performance. There’s a fourth mode called navigation terrain avoidance, weather mode (rain-bearing clouds),” he said.
Producer of Tejas, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan has said they have placed orders for 20 Israeli AESA radars and Uttam should be ready shortly thereafter.
He said their target is to increase indigenous content in Tejas from 62% to 65%, and this will help in achieving that goal. The move is in tandem with the government’s push for promoting indigenously-developed defense equipment.