Raytheon is to develop technology that will enable combat aircraft to use their active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars as wideband datalinks. The Radar Common Data Link will allow fighters and bombers to export intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data collected by on-board sensors.

A Raytheon-led team has been awarded a five-year, $9.7 million contract by the US Air Force to develop an extension to the existing Common Data Link (CDL) standard that enables an AESA sensor to transmit and receive data at speeds of at least 274Mb/s. Radar manufacturer Raytheon plans a laboratory demonstration of the capability "within weeks", says programme manager Mark Hammond.

Whereas the CDL, which is used with manned and unmanned ISR aircraft, is a continuous-wave radio, AESA radars use a pulsed waveform, requiring a new version of the datalink standard, says Hammond. The active array will be "timeshared" between the radar's combat and communication modes, transmitting the data in packets, he says.

Using the powerful array's agile beam as a wide-band directional datalink will allow AESA-equipped combat aircraft, like the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 fighters and upgraded Northrop Grumman B-2 bombers, to conduct "non-traditional ISR", collecting and downlinking data during primary missions. The development work will also be supported by Boeing and L-3 Communications.

Elta steps up radar work

Israel's Elta Systems is stepping up efforts to develop active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, citing rising market demand to replace mechanically scanned systems.

The Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary is completing the development of its AESA EL/M-2052 radar, with a prototype undergoing flight tests on a Boeing 737.

Elta says the new sensor will be capable of detecting up to 64 long-range threats and engaging several simultaneously using radar-guided missiles. The design will also provide high-resolution synthetic aperture radar imagery and detect moving surface and maritime targets, it says.

Elta has meanwhile received a $95 million contract to supply EL/M-2032 radars to an undisclosed nation. 

Source: Flight International