The JL-10A airborne radar is a highly digitized pulse-Doppler radar with slotted planar array developed for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) as a replacement for the older Type 232H radar currently employed by the Chinese air force. The radar is built to MIL-STD-1553 standard so it is compatible with western electronics and weaponry. Originally, the radar is capable of simultaneously tracking 10 targets (later to be upgraded to 15) and engaging 2 (later to be upgraded to 6) of the 10 tracked when using semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles, or 4 of the 10 tracked when using active radar homing air-to-air missiles.
Although the radar has the terrain following and terrain avoidance capabilities, they are rarely used, instead, it is compatible with navigational pods such as the Chinese Blue Sky low altitude navigation pod that enable the aircraft to have these two capabilities. The reason for using navigational pod with terrain following / avoidance radar in conjunction with JL-10A is to have a dedicated terrain following / avoidance mode purely for low level flight, while the fire control modes are continuous and separated from navigational modes such terrain following /avoidance, so that JL-10A would constantly stay at fire control modes instead of switching between terrain following / avoidance modes and other modes of operation. Unlike the much more advanced electronically scanned phased array airborne radars with each scan lasts only milliseconds, the JL-10A is a slotted planar array radar with each scan last from several seconds to a dozen seconds or greater, switching between different operational modes would take too long and thus deemed unacceptable under intense combat situations, so it would be far better to stay in the same operational mode to avoid any interruption under these situations. Reportedly, the terrain following / avoidance technology of JL-10A was developed from those originally obtained from captured terrain following radars from downed A-6 Intruder and General Dynamics F-111 during the Vietnam War.
(The following unverified claims are suspect as the radar in question is a ground attack set and the AWG-9 was for pure intercept missions.Use with caution.) According to information finally released in 2006 by China, the fire control technology of JL10A was partially based on AWG-9 of F-14 Tomcat. At least one complete set of AWG-9 was obtained from Iran in the 1980s, and China attempted to reverse engineer the American system. However, the Chinese was so technologically behind that it could neither completely decode the embedded software and nor produce the microelectronics needed. It was not until the late 1990s, more than a decade later for Chinese technologies to mature enough to have a relatively complete understanding the detailed design of AWG-9, and by this time, identical copy of the American system was considered inefficient because the 1960s electronics and analog computer technology were obsolete despite the advanced design principle / philosophy. As a result, the JL-10A adopted solid state electronics and fully digitized computer technology instead. China, however, still faced great technological gaps in the late 1990s which had limited its capability to produce a system that matches AWG-9 on equal terms, resulting in the number of targets JL-10A can simultaneously tracked and engaged are still significantly lower than that of AWG-9, which is able to simultaneously track 24 targets and engaging 6 of the 24 tracked. In comparison, JL-10A can only simultaneously track 15 targets and engage 6 of the tracked. Due to the same reason, the range of JL-10A is also much shorter than that of AWG-9: in comparison to the 300 + km range of AWG-9, the range of JL-10A is only 104 km. Other technologies benefited from the AWG-9 included the compatibility with electro-optics such as IRST. Similar to the American AWG-9, JL-10A is part of a larger airborne fire control system that integrade other sensors such as IRST, and the Chinese system is designated as AMFCS, short for Airborne Multi-targets Fire Control System, which works exactly with the identical principles of similar system on F-14 Tomcat, from which AMFCS is developed from. AMFCS is developed by CLETRI, the developer of JL-10A, and the system has already been installed on JH-7A Flying Leopard.
In 2001, JL-10A achieved a 32:1 DBS (Doppler beam sharpening) capability, but it still lags behind the 48:1 DBS capability of AN/APG-66, and it was not several years later when the JL-10A was finally upgraded with 64:1 DBS capability like that of AN/APG-68. Around the same time, JL-10A was also upgraded with the capability to simultaneously engage 15 targets and engage 6 of the 15 tracked. By 2004, SAR capability was incorporated, and inverse SAR (ISAR) capability is reportedly under development.
The radar has already been tested and successfully installed on JH-7A Flying Leopard fighter-bombers and is capable of launching a scope of weapons including the C-802 anti-ship missile and the Russian Kh-31. The JL-10A will be fitted on the Chinese/Pakistani FC-1s upon customer's requests.
- Frequency: X band
- Maximum detection range: 104 km
- Maximum look-up tracking range: 80 km
- Maximum look-down tracking range: 54 km
- Maximum look-up engagement range: 40 km
- Maximum look-down engagement range: 32 km
- Total modes of operation: 11
- Sector of scan: +/- 60 degrees
- Maximum targets tracked: 15
- Maximum targets engaged: 6
- Developer: CLETRI (607th Institute)