Electronic Weapons: Why AESA Attracts Chinese Spies


July 13, 2007: The U.S. has had great success with its new AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) (AESA) radars. These systems consists of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions. Many new uses have been found for the smaller, airborne AESA radars now equipping many American fighters. The latest uses are for electronic warfare. Not many details about this are being released, for obvious reasons, but there has been a lot of buzz about this in the trade journals over the last few years.

AESA has only been around for about three decades, at least as a fielded device. The U.S. Aegis naval radar was one of the first big successes. AESA radar made the JSTARS aircraft possible, enabling it to locate vehicles moving on the ground. A new AESA radar for JSTARS enables them to spot smaller, man sized, objects. AESA type radars are also popular for their ability deal with lots of targets simultaneously. JSTARS radar has now been tweaked so it can spot ships and boats at sea.

AESA is also being used as a communications device, because it can transmit, and receive, large quantities of information. More powerful airborne AESA radars can even zap warheads and guidance systems on missiles, or other aircraft. Chinese espionage efforts have long concentrated on American AESA technology, and that has resulted in the enormous growth of Chinese AESA capabilities in a short time.




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