Since the 1990s, radars especially those on the ground used to monitor the skies for whatever is up there, have become more complex and capable. Only a few nations can compete in this sector of electronics but the competition is intense. That’s mainly because several nations produce and export MMR (multi-mission radars) for air traffic control and military purposes (surveillance and fire control). Since the 1990s several new MMR designs and technologies have appeared and this has spurred MMR producers to develop and offer more capable designs. An example of this can be seen in the main Israeli MMR; the ELM 2084. This MMR design comes in various sizes and a range of capabilities. The 2084 is basically an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar system with a growing number of accessories. AESA radars consist of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions. AESA type radars have been around a long time and are popular mainly for their ability to handle lots of targets simultaneously. Since 2000 new American jet fighters have had AESA installed, and many older ones were upgraded with AESA and MMR systems.
AESA capabilities alone are no longer enough and most AEAS radars feature more powerful computers and software to make MMR capable of detecting where a ballistic (high speed following a predictable path) object (rocket or artillery shell) came from as well as tracking air traffic. Thus the ELM 2084 now is an MS (multi-sensor) MMR. The radar can be used for 360 degree 3D (distance, altitude, speed and precise location) surveillance of aerial objects out to 470 kilometers, and calculate the location of rockets and artillery shells fired from up to 100 kilometers away. ELM 2084 is available in various sizes (of AESA panel) and configurations, including one for ships.
The MS element includes several additional sensors and software that can quickly analyze the main radar and MS sensor data to produce a more comprehensive ASP (air situational picture). The additional sensors include smaller higher frequency (and thus greater detail) AESA radar panels attached to the side of the main radar facing forward and two facing to the rear. Also added are SIGINT (signals intelligence) sensors to detect radar broadcast, radio traffic and IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) and transponder signals. There is also an electro-optical (high rest vidcam) sensor. What makes all this incoming data useful is an expandable library of known (or anticipated) combinations of data that would indicate various types of aircraft or other flying objects. This would include commercial and military UAVs, balloons and whatever. The “fusion” software and analysis library would provide a best guess if something unique was observed.
ELM 2084 is already used for the new David’s Sling air defense system (similar to the U.S. Patriot) and the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. The MS MMR ELM 2084 is designed to easily integrate additional sensors. New features like this ar attractive to export customers, who also realize that Israelis develop additional features like MS MMR because they have encountered a need under combat conditions. The constant threat of attack by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran require this kind of constant innovation to stay ahead of the threats.