The global aerial technological changes taking place are partially being led by the aerospace industry. Technological up gradations are being incorporated in civil and military sector operations. The defense sector is not far behind as there are increasing technological changes that are taking place in this respect and many countries are investing in the aerospace discipline to further improve their defense sector.
Aerospace technology is helping the defense sector to deal with one of the most obvious challenges of operation. Proper surveillance is a must for efficient and successful missions. Swedish Saab has recently completed the first flight of its Global Eye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, which it claims is among the most advanced swing role surveillance systems in the world. Global Eye brings together a sophisticated set of the latest surveillance sensors and communications that allow the operators to survey air.
The large radar on the back of the aircraft is an Erieye ER active electronically scanned array (AESA) consisting of numerous advanced modules that use gallium nitride technology (GaN) technology to scan air and surfaces for the most challenging of targets within a very large volume of space. Seaspray radar by Leonardo is located underneath the aircraft and supports on surface surveillance, while an electro-optical turret near the front bottom region provides round the clock imaging within a 360 degree arc.
The data from these various sensors is provided to an operator who can further direct these sensors. The network nature of Global Eye means that it can share this information with others, issue instructions or accept data or communications from third parties.
Aerospace technology is not only inventing new machines but also upgrading existing ones. The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is undergoing rapid developments. Recently it was fitted with better signal reception and transmission systems and subsequent blocking mechanisms that will enhance its ability to combat other aircrafts. It has also received improved sensors and apart from this the upgrade planned for 2018 will include a new storage and management system for advanced missiles like AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120D AMRAAM over which the operators will have improved control.
Chinese armed forces are also incorporating technology in their products and are developing their own hi-tech aircrafts. The new fourth generation Chengdu J-20 is the first multi-role stealth fighter in China’s armed forces. Capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, it carries more fuel and weapons than the F-22 Raptor and features fifth generation subsystems and field signature reduction technology.
Russian companies are also developing programs to promote aerospace developments in their air force. The Sukhoi Su-57 is a product of the Russian Air Force’s PAK FA fifth generation fighter programme and will succeed the MIG-29 and Su-27. The Sukhoi Su-57 is believed to have super cruise, stealth, super maneuverability and advanced avionics along with the capacity for extensive loads of ordnance.
According to the study, ‘Aerospace & Defense Global Industry Almanac 2017-2021’, many more developments are taking place across the world mostly being carried out by the US. Its current surveillance and patrol technology is being improved by taking ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) to the next level. Stealth bombing is also an upcoming sector with the American B-21 Raider being one of the latest developments.
The country is also investing heavily in aerial refueling for its military aircraft, for which the US Air Force is replacing its older jets with the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus which is among the most advanced military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircrafts in operation.
Aerospace defense technology can safely be considered among the growth drivers for the aerospace industry. Many countries are transforming their military using aerospace as a potential tool. Multiple military products are exemplifying not only the extent to which innovation can lead the military sector, but also the productiveness that can be extracted from such developments. The US has undoubtedly emerged as the global leader in aerospace defense technology with many current projects still under development whilst facing competition from China and Russia.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications