Monday, January 14, 2008

Indian SU-30s at Red Flag To Keep Radars Turned Off

Indian Express - India’s defence ties with the US may be reaching new heights, but the Air Force is keen to protect the secrets of its latest fighting machine, the Su 30MKI, from probing eyes during the high profile ‘Red Flag’ exercise scheduled to take place at the Nellis airbase in US in August next year.

The Air Force is sending six Su 30s for the prestigious exercise — the first time the latest fighter from the Russian stable will visit North America — but has decided to keep the aircraft’s classified NO11M BARS radar switched off during the entire war game.

While alternative arrangements are being made to ensure that the performance of the fighters at the “world’s toughest aerial combat training exercise” does not get compromised, the IAF top brass is clear that the secret frequencies used by the BARS radar to track enemy targets and launch offensive weapons should not be exposed.

“The radar frequencies are top secret as they can be used to block vital functions of the fighter. While we have a good equation with the US, we have to be careful about the future,” a senior IAF officer said.

Perhaps, the IAF has not yet recovered from its experience at the Indra Dhanush exercise in UK earlier this year, where US and UK spy planes tried to snoop on the Su 30 MKI’s radar.

According to some reports, a US Air Force RC-135U electronic spy plane and a UK Air Force BAC 111 test plane equipped with radar detecting gear were snooping around the Waddington airbase during the two-week war game. However, the BARS radar was switched off during that exercise too.

Also, Russia is keen to protect the frequencies of its radar as it has just started getting global orders for the Su 30. “There are IPR related issues too as Russia would not want its radar frequencies to be revealed,” the IAF officer said.

The US is specially interested in the BARS radar as the Su 30s are becoming the mainstay fighter of the Chinese Air Force too.