WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Being able to extend the detection range of your military systems is a critical piece of any military’s arsenal and China’s newest radar system thrashes everyone elses.
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When it comes to the future of global military power China is doing all it can right now to over match the US military and eliminate its advantages. On the back of developing stealth aircraft detecting quantum radar and new hypersonic missile systems, among a lot else, now Chinese scientists are allegedly building the world’s most powerful naval radar system, according to The South China Morning Post.
With a peak power of 30 megawatts, the new radar system could tip the balance in the PLA Navy’s favor by significantly extending its situational awareness in combat far over existing systems. If successfully developed, the system would enable Chinese forces to detect incoming missiles up to 2,800 miles (4,500 km) away.
To put that into perspective, that is about the distance between Southern China and Northern Australia. Typical radar systems today are limited by the curvature of the Earth and tend to have ranges of up to 2,000 miles (3,218 km), with ship-mounted systems having a far shorter range.
The new Chinese radar can also track multiple targets within 2,175 miles (3,500 km). This happens to be the distance from Southern China to the island of Guam. The team of scientists and engineers behind the project, led by associate professor Sun Donyang from the Harbin University of Science and Technology, said the radar is suitable for installation on new Chinese warships, with the first system already in construction.
Most military vessels have radars with a limited working range of only a few hundred kilometers, as extending their range requires immense power. However, the researchers claim to have solved this problem, making the system feasible for newer ships with electric propulsion systems.
As the SCMP reports, the new active phased array radar has a significantly higher number of transceivers, tens of thousands, compared to traditional devices, as reported by the researchers. Each transceiving array unit can independently send and receive signals as a radar. When these units collaborate, they can produce pulse electromagnetic signals with a strength of up to 30 megawatts, potentially disrupting the electrical systems of any warship currently in use.
Developing long-range radar systems can pose size-related challenges. Florida’s AN/FPS-85 radar, owned by the US Space Force and considered the world’s most powerful, has a floor space of over 23,000 square meters – equivalent to three soccer fields. However, recent technological advancements have led to a reduction in the size of high-power radars. In addition, some essential components are now more readily available in larger quantities and at lower costs, SCMP explains, thanks to the widespread application of 5G technology.
Sun and his colleagues also faced a significant obstacle in powering their innovative radar technology. The radar had a tendency to generate powerful electric shocks when producing signals in quick succession, which posed a risk to other electronic devices in the confined space of a vessel so Sun’s team decided to separate the radar from the ship’s power network to address this issue and prevent damage.