|Chinese KLJ-3 pulse Doppler fire control radar|
Recently, Russian media reports that the Chinese J-10 fighter uses NIIR Phazotron Company’s Zhuk Zhemchoug airborne fire control radar. In fact, PLA Air force J-10 is equipped domestic KLJ-3 pulse Doppler fire control radar.
KLJ-3 radar is indeed the result of the introduction of foreign technology, but it is not from Russia, but Israel.
In 1986, J-10 fighter program started. When the Chinese Air Force dispatched pilots go to France to fly Mirage 2000 for evaluation, the Chinese pilots were impressed with Mirage-2000′s avionics and advanced cockpit display system. After the test in France, Pilot Ge Wenyong bluntly said that if counterpart Mirage 2000 pilots do not make mistakes, PLA Air Force J-7 and J-8 fighters have no chance of winning. But Chinese electronics industry was weak at 1980s, and it is difficult to meet the development requirements of the new combat aircraft. In this case, the Heads of Chinese military has determined to actively introduce advanced foreign technology, and push the the development of Chinese avionics industry.
In later 1980s, China began aviation technical cooperation with Israel, including the a full set of LAVI fighter avionics systems. LAVI’s original EL/M-2035 multifunction pulse Doppler fire control radar, which uses a phase parameters transmitter and multi-channel receiver, programmable signal processing system, look-down capacity as 46 km detection range. Its air-to-air modes include RWS (range-while-search), TWS (Track-While-Scan), dogfight, single target tracking; the air-to-ground modes include ranging, real beam mapping and Doppler beam sharpening. The radar has weights of 138 kg. However when the LAVI project ended, the development of EL/M-2035 was also cancelled.
Later, Israel improved EL/M-2035 improvements into EL/M-2032, which was displayed for the first time at the 1987 Paris Air Show. EL/M-2032 in aerial target designation mode has the maximum search distance to reach 150 km; in the air-to-sea mode detection range over 300 km. There have been reports that the Israeli Air Force are not satisfied with F-16I fighter AN/APG-68V-9 radar’s performance and hoped to replace by EL/M-2032 radar, but the United States refused. This also reflects high- performance EL/M-2032, rising as a threat to the U.S. radar.
The introduction of the LAVI aviation electronic systems in China, was known as the 873 avionics integrated system based on 1553B data bus, which was officially launched in 1989, began to conduct test flights in 1993. Other sub-systems including airborne radar, inertial navigation, mission computer display management sub-systems, air data computers, plug-in management system. The 873 project has laid a solid foundation for J-10 to reach full operational capability and greatly raise the R&D Level of Chinese aviation industry.
China imported a multi-Ministry EL/M-2032-radar airborne radar, on which China develops KLJ-3 radar. KLJ-3 uses a double mode grid controlled TWT transmitter, so that the radar is the equivalent of two transmitters, greatly improve the performance of the radar. KLJ-3 works by low operating ratio in the low PRF mode, but also work in high work than high PRF mode. It means KLJ-3 features with real multifunction performance.
The real specifications of KLJ-3 radar are still unknown, but we can deduce its performance by KLJ-7 radar. Pakistan Air Force JF-17 is equipped with KLJ-7 airborne pulse Doppler radar with maximum detection range of 130 km, TWS mode can simultaneously track 10 targets and simultaneously guided two SD-10A active radar-guided air-to-air missile attack two biggest threats. KLJ-7 also has ground moving target indication, synthetic aperture imaging and other advanced work mode, with a strong ground attack capability. KLJ-7 antenna aperture and power supply capacity is lower than the J-10′s KLJ-3, so you can imagine KLJ-3 has better tactical and technical indicators.
China started airborne radar cooperation with Russia at the beginning of 1990s. In addition to NO01E, NO01VE radar for supporting the Su-27SK, Su-30MKK fleets, China also imported some Russian radars including ZHUK Series radar and PERO passive phased array antenna.
Chinese J-8IIM fighter is the first one equipped with Russian ZHUK-8-2 radar. After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the development of ZHUK radar was not quite smoothly, and Russian Air Force did not use it. The ultimate success of ZHUK-M-type radar developed in 2002 ultimately is equipped with the Russian MiG-29SMT fighter and the Indian Navy’s MiG-29KUB fighter.
“Zhemchoug” radar is a light version of ZHUK-M radar with performance decreased. “Zhemchoug” radar actually was later than the time of the production of F-10 fighter. Chinese J-10 airborne radar is also different with “Zhemchoug” IFF antenna design, therefore J-10 has no relation with Russia “Zhemchoug” radar.
Through the combination of technology introduction and self-development, Chinese airborne radar has made a breakthrough in the beginning of 2000s, making significant progress in the field of antenna precision manufacturing and transmitter power density, brings a strong impetus to Chinese radar tactical and technical indicators. Chinese-made radar may learn some from Russian radar technology, but the Chinese fighter almost has no possibility of directly using Russian radar. Besides, China is also developing airborne active phased array radar.