"The type of target will no longer matter": the head of the RTI Systems concern - on the development of radio photonic technologies for radars, June 26, 2021, Alexey Zakvasin.
Research in the field of radio-photonics, which is now being carried out in Russia, will significantly improve the capabilities of radar stations. Yuri Anoshko, General Director of JSC Concern RTI Sistemy, spoke about this in an interview with RT. Radiophotonics is a field of physics focused on the transition to the optical range of information processing. The concern's specialists, in cooperation with other Russian enterprises and research centers, expect to radically increase the speed of radar data processing, enhance noise immunity and reduce the energy consumption of modern and future radars.
- Yuri Gennadievich, practically nothing is known about radio photonics to a wide range of people. Could you explain what this area of modern physics is studying?
- Now there is a generally accepted, but not entirely correct interpretation. It boils down to the fact that radio photonics is a technology for transmitting information inside a radar station via optical channels, that is, converting data from the radio band to the optical one. Many modern radar stations already use such a scheme.
The optical range is characterized by a high level of protection against the effects of various suppression means. It can be unambiguously stated that the throughput and stability of such a channel is higher than that of traditional schemes.
However, in its pure form, this cannot be called radiophotonics. In fact, it assumes the maximum allowable transition from microwave (ultra-high frequencies. - RT ) to the optical range both in the location and in the information processing segment.
- Can we say that radio photonics has become a trend in modern science, a popular field of study?
- The development of science and technology always follows the same scenario. First, a hypothesis appears, which is either confirmed or not. If everything is in order with it, then it goes into the field of scientific research, and those, in turn, flow into experimental and applied research. At present, we are only at the stage of confirming the viability of the existing scientific hypotheses in the field of radio photonics.
- Nevertheless, is it possible hypothetically to create a radio-photon station and how will it conceptually differ from the usual radar?
- In my opinion, the issue of creating a radio-photon station is overly advertised in certain circles. Now Russia and other countries are only moving in this direction. No one yet knows how to build a radar (radar station. - RT ) solely based on radio photonics technologies.
Today it is appropriate to talk not so much about the creation of such a product, but about the development of a number of technological solutions and their subsequent integration into modern and promising radar stations.
In our research, we focus on the transfer of radar information from the radio to the optical range, where, as it is assumed, the data will be mainly processed.
- What will the technology you are talking about give in practice?
- The possibility of switching to the optical range opens up very great prospects. In practice, we will be able to develop radars with significantly improved characteristics. First of all, we are talking about a serious increase in the volume and speed of information processing by radio-photonic optical processors.
It will also reduce the weight and dimensions of the radar, reduce heat generation, and enhance noise immunity. In general, we will get a new quality of radar information processing. Without progress in this field, it is unrealistic to count on significant success in increasing the potential of radar detection equipment.
- Will the radar range increase with the introduction of radio-photonic solutions?
- It is difficult to unequivocally answer this question, since the range indicator depends on many accompanying factors.
- Will such a radar detect hypersonic aircraft? This question now worries many, including Russia.
- If we are able to implement a quantum locator in its original understanding, then the type of target will no longer matter. In this sense, we will be able to see any air objects and promptly process information on them.
It will be possible not only to accurately determine the coordinates of targets, but also to display (on the radar screen - RT ) an image of this object, which, of course, simplifies identification and improves the awareness of decision-making centers.
- One gets the impression that radio photonics began to develop as a way to correct the shortcomings of existing radars. What problems do modern radars have?
- This logic is not very correct. It is worth talking not about the shortcomings, but about the objective limitations that exist in the microwave range and are associated with the physics of this state of electromagnetic energy. But two major problems, which I mentioned, are solved by radio photonics - this is a significant increase in noise immunity and the throughput of information streams.
- What about energy consumption? It is no secret that modern radars are extremely energy-intensive, which a priori worsens their performance.
- You're right. But a large amount of power consumption is an inevitable necessity to ensure the normal operation of modern locators. A powerful radar station consumes a lot of electricity, and it will not be possible to change the situation with the help of the usual technical solutions. In this regard, the optical range just allows you to achieve a significant reduction in power consumption.
- In 2018, the RTI Systems website announced the creation of the first experimental radar with elements of radio-photon technologies. It was emphasized that the appearance of such a product made it possible to confirm the possibility of using radio-photon technologies in radar. At the same time, it was noted that the radar had a lot of shortcomings and limitations in its use.
- Yes that's right. We have proven the fundamental possibility of integrating these technologies into radar systems. To obtain further large-scale results, research is required on the development of nodes for transmitting information to the optical range. What, in fact, our concern is doing.
Naturally, we do not work separately and we are building interaction with leading enterprises and research institutes in Russia, which have gained some experience in the field of research and implementation of radio photonics technologies into practice.
The center of concentration of our competencies is the site of the design center for radio photonics on the basis of the Academician A.L. Mints.
- Is it still possible to predict that the creation of a full-fledged radio photonic radar is a prospect for the coming decades, since it is necessary to solve too many complex problems?
- As I already noted, the issue of creating a prototype of a full-scale quantum locator is not on the agenda. It makes no sense to talk about any timing of the appearance of such a product yet also because many scientific and technological solutions will need confirmation of the right to exist for a long time.
Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the development and operation of a radio-photonic radar will entail the creation of a virtually new industry - it will be necessary to establish mass production of a wide range of completely new components, an elementary component base, fundamentally different systems and assemblies.
On the one hand, this opens up new horizons for the development of the high-tech sector in Russia, on the other, it is a resource-intensive and not at all fast process that will require the concentration of significant competencies and finances.
- Do you have an understanding of the stage at which projects in the field of radio-photonics abroad are?
- Earlier in the public space of foreign states there was a lot of information about the development of these technologies, but at a certain moment this flow stopped. This indicates that, in all likelihood, a certain level of development of radiophotonics has been reached abroad. The closure of information probably indicates that research has migrated to the practical plane.
- What place does Russia occupy in this eternal competition with the West?
- In order to compare the achievements of Russia and foreign states, you still need to have more complete information than what I have. However, I have no doubt that domestic science and industry are not lagging behind the West. Another question is which way of technological solutions will be the most correct.