Zhuk ASE AESA - Scaling the Zhuk AE for the Flanker
One of the stated intentions of Phazotron is to scale up the Zhuk AE for the Flanker, in the manner of the Zhuk-27 and Zhuk-MSFE variants, using a 0.98 metre diameter aperture.
If we assume that such a scaled up design uses exactly the same quad module technology as the Zhuk AE does, and an enlarged cooling plate and mounting frame, then the achievable performance will scale with the aperture size. For the 0.98 m antenna outside diameter, assuming a similar unused area around the emitter array, the total usable aperture diameter will be around 0.8 metres, and the element count will sit at around 1160. If we assume tighter placement and a 1.1 metre antenna outside diameter, as used in the Pero PESA, then the total usable aperture diameter will be around 0.95 metres, and the element count will sit at around 1630, or about the same as the Zhuk-MSFE PESA design.
With a peak power rating of 10 Watts/channel the latter yields a peak power of the order of 16.3 kW which results in a radar which outperforms the N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-71 and APG-79 in raw power aperture performance. Such a radar could reach IOC around 2010 if it is funded properly, in step with the timelines for the NIIP Irbis E.
If Phazotron improve the TR channel power rating as they have stated an intent to do, then the results bear some careful consideration. Tabulating options yields some interesting results.
Estimated detection range chart for variants of the Zhuk ASE AESA equipped with a range of Transmit Receive Module power ratings per channel. The detection range performance of the 10 and 12 Watt module equipped Zhuk ASE is similar to the Tikhomirov NIIP Irbis-E hybrid ESA in the Su-35BM/Su-35-1, and much superior to the N011M BARS. The performance of Zhuk ASE if equipped with modules rated above 15 Watts is superior to the Irbis E. Receiver noise figure and effective aperture area are assumed to be similar. N011M performance is based on parametric data and is better than NIIP cited figures (Author).
Notional Zhuk ASE Estimated Power Aperture: ~1630 TR channels; 0.95 meter aperture diameter; NF=3.5 dB
TR Channel Peak Power [W]
Radar Ave Power [kW] Radar Peak Power [kW]
Notional Zhuk ASE: Radars/Fighters Power Aperture Comparison
TR Channel Peak Power [W] Radars Outperformed by Zhuk ASE Fighter Types Equipped
10.0 N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-70, APG-73, APG-79, APG-81 Su-30MK, F-15C/E, F/A-18A-G, JSF
12.0 N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-70, APG-73, APG-79, APG-81 Su-30MK, F-15C/E, F/A-18A-G, JSF
15.0 N035 Irbis E, N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-70, APG-73, APG-79, APG-81 Su-30MK/35BM, F-15C/E, F/A-18A-G, JSF
20.0 N035 Irbis E, N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-70, APG-73, APG-79, APG-81 Su-30MK/35BM, F-15C/E, F/A-18A-G, JSF
25.0 N035 Irbis E, N011M BARS, APG-63(V)1, APG-70, APG-73, APG-79, APG-81 Su-30MK/35BM, F-15C/E, F/A-18A-G, JSF
Once Phazotron have engineered a Zhuk ASE with ~1630 TR Channels, then scaling up power aperture performance is only a matter of changing the TR Module design to use more powerful transistors, and improving the per module heat transfer performance in the AESA. Both of the latter represent fairly low risk incremental design changes.
Much of the imperative in the US to pursue high density tiled packaging was the result of a high demand for reduced AESA mass production costs, good structural mode RCS performance, and tight element spacing to maximise bandwidth, so as to expand the functions the AESAs could perform and to maximise LPI capability via frequency agility. It is not entirely clear that these would be compelling near term motives for Russia's industry - they will become such as work on the avionics for the PAK-FA accelerates.
There can be absolutely no doubt that Phazotron will aggressively market the Zhuk ASE as an upgrade package into the established Flanker market, which could be as large as 500 aircraft in China alone.