Defining 5th Generation: Stefano Goretti

It is very necessary to clearly define a fifth generation fighter before even thinking about which one is superior to others.The capability to engage a target 360° around is one of the capability a fifth generation fighter must possess. The F-35’s DAS provides 360° spherical coverage that senses tempreture differentials and points out enemy aircraft because of the hot exhausts. It also provides enough information for the launch of a heat seeking missile.

The F-35’s EW system called barracuda senses enemy’s radar waves which are used as a feed to radar homing missiles. The system also has 360° spherical coverage.

Somewhat similar the F-22’s ALR R-94. The ALR 94 system which has 360° coverage consists of 30 antennas spread out over the airframe of F 22 hidden inside such as they mostly dont protrude out. These antennas sense enemy radar’s incoming signals and analyses that radar’s signal strength. It may also provide enough information that missile lock could happen. Radio waves of various frequencies emitted by various antennas can be sensed and it exposes the position of enemy aircraft with respect to F 22.

The Sukhoi T-50 has got L-402 Himalayas electronic warfare station that uses active and passive antennas spread throughout the airframe to sense enemy radar’s waves and signal strength and can pinpoint their location providing radar homing missiles sufficient information to target them. It also has 360° coverage.

The T-50 has 101KS-U QWIP IRST which senses temperature differentials of adversaries, it is the most advanced IRST. It performs passive targeting of adversaries at large ranges and could be cued with main radar so that radar follows whatever the IRST sees.

The HAL AMCA would have Active Transmit Receive Arrays spread over its airframe providing smartskin capability. It has been described ‘ multiple eyes watching everything around ‘. The system isn’t dependant on enemy radar unlike previous systems we saw above and can sense enemy aircraft actively, even though their radar is switched off. It has been developed and on board tests would begin with first prototype.


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