Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars are a computer-controlled array antenna system that can electronically steer the beam of radio waves to point in different directions, allowing aircraft to radiate powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy. AESA radars can spread signal emissions across a wider range of frequencies, allowing aircraft to radiate powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy.
The AESA system is used to detect, track and form images of aerial and ground targets. With technical support from an Israeli firm, the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Hanwha Systems have developed a more advanced and sophisticated system that can radiate multiple beams of radio waves at multiple frequencies simultaneously.
Hanwha Systems said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Leonardo to cooperate in exporting AESA radars. The two companies would establish an integrated solution for AESA radars by combining Hanwha System's AESA radar antenna device with Leonardo's signal processor and power supplier to secure technology reliability and price competitiveness.
"We hope to promote South Korea's defense technology to the world once again by creating export opportunities for the state-of-the-art AESA radar that only some advanced countries have," Hanwha Systems CEO Eoh Sung-chul said in a statement on May 23. "We will continue to make efforts to expand our export product line to various fields through cooperation with advanced overseas companies."
The first AESA prototype was unveiled in 2020 and sent to ELTA Systems, an Israeli provider of defense products, for ground and flight tests. In 2021, South Korea rolled out the first KF-21 prototype installed with an AESA system, after nearly two decades of strenuous work to shake off doubtful or sometimes depreciatory eyes from top-class foreign aircraft makers.
A domestic flight test to verify the performance of an AESA system for South Korea's homemade KF-21 fighter jet began in March 2022, using a Boeing 737-500 plane modified into a flying testbed in South Africa. Radar function and performance tests have been completed abroad in late 2021.
With AESA radars, it is possible to detect a large area, perform multiple missions, and engage multiple targets simultaneously, Hanwha Systems said, adding that fast beam steering is possible by electronically controlling a thousand small transmission and reception integration modules fixed to the front of the radar.
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