Orange to add teeth to India’s gen-next weapon systems

Written by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M
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Hyderabad, Oct 27: Future missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) being developed by India will be tested for their Radar Cross Section (RCS) measurements at the recently-opened facility codenamed Project Orange (open range) in Dundigal near Hyderabad.

Orange is a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) project operated by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Research Centre Imarat (formerly RCI). It is being developed as a national facility for RCS measurements, which is capable of enhancing the stealth features of India's gen-next weapon systems.

Orange 1

Giving exclusive details to OneIndia, an official said that Orange is capable of measuring RCS over a wide frequency band for various platforms. The facility was recently opened by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

"Orange can be used to test platforms currently in use by defence forces and those futuristic weapon systems under development. The facility presently covers frequency ranges in far field scenario and is capable of providing RCS measurements as well as onboard antenna characteristics," the official, requesting anonymity, said.

Know more about Radar Cross Section (RCS)

RCS is the parameter that determines the detectability of an object by a radar. A larger value indicates that an object can be detected at far distances compared to one with small RCS value.

The RCS of a object is defined in far field, i.e., distances where the electro-magnetic (EM) energy spread out by the emitter has achieved a steady state scenario and antenna pattern does not change with distance.

Radars are used worldwide over a wide frequency band starting from VHF to millimeter waves (MM-waves) for various purposes. Low frequency radars have the advantage of transmitting a very high power and are utilized for early detection. However, for tracking purpose (a seeker for example), higher frequencies are used, which have the advantage of higher resolution, though transmitted powers are limited.

Facility can take loads in excess of 75 tonnes

The official said that Orange is being established in an open (outdoor) configuration with a range that's capable of addressing the requirements of a full-scale vehicle.

The Pylon system is capable of lifting payloads up to 35 tonnes by a height of 10 meter above ground, necessary for aerial targets.

"The base rotor of the pylon has the capability of taking loads in excess of 75 tonnes which is to be utilized for RCS and antenna measurements of heavier ground vehicles, including tanks and radars. The pylon has three detachable rotors with varying payload capacity," the official said.

The capacity of the pylon is capable of addressing the requirements of scale models, dummy mockups, operational light aircraft and even heavy fighter such as a Su-30MKI.

Orange 2

Many home-grown technologies incorporated

Orange boasts of many home-grown technologies developed with the support of DRDO. The Instrumentation Radar System (capable of measuring low RCS values) at the test range is co-developed by Bose Institute, Kolkata and Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (Rangpo), Sikkim.

"The RCS measurement and calibration technique for the test range is based on RCI's two-decades-plus expertise in this domain. In addition to RCS measurements, the RF imaging capability of the range is capable of diagnosing the hot spots (prominent scattering centres) on a platform," he said.

Based on the levels of hot spots, the vehicle can be subjected to a redesign or even put through RCS-reduction materials.
"It all depends upon the overall RCS reduction achievement in a defined threat sector of a given vehicle," the official added.

(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India and is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)

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