SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has cleared and approved design and development of the Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI. IRST systems according to Defence ministry will operate in day & night conditions and significantly boost the operational capabilities of SU-30 MKI aircraft.
For years now, Russians have fine-tuned their IRST sensors systems so that it can filter out false positives and can also help aid Pilot in the detection of low observable fighter aircraft like F-22 and F-35. IRST supplemented by a Powerful radar like NIIP N011M Bars used in Su-30MKI is a significant threat to any stealth fighters and local indigenous development has far too many local applications and likely to be integrated into other Indian fighters too.
Indian Su-30MKIs are already equipped with Russian developed IRST sensors systems and need for Indian development might have been felt to develop indigenous supplements but also have a local alternative which can be used on other fighters.
IRST sensors uses the cooled sensor to track heated air in the atmosphere which happens due to fast moving fighter airframes and even stealth aircraft generate heat and the temperature difference detected any help Pilot locate the enemy aircraft in the air. IRST has abilities to detect small points of heat at a long distance and is particularly helpful in calm and cool temperature at the night when Stealth aircraft are most active operationally.
Humid and the Hot weather is not the ideal places where IRST sensors work perfectly and thermal imaging always works better at night when the skies are cooler. Addition of IRST sensors system in locally developed fighters and almost year around Cooler skies of the northeast seems to be the perfect match to hunt for Stealth aircraft in the eastern sector and in the western sector, to Nights are much cooler than day times and can come handy.
Development of the Indigenous IRST sensors will also help India adapt it to other local Indian fighters which India is developing. If ready in time, IAF might consider it for Tejas MK-2 and AMCA fighter jets which India plans to develop in next two decade. IRST sensors alone are not 100% instrumental in the detection of the Stealth aircraft, side way radars and other multiple sensors too need to be developed to improve its effectiveness.
IRST sensors are a welcome addition to Indian developed fighter aircraft and to other imported fighters which will also help in detection of non-stealthy aircraft too and will also help pilots looking out for stealthy aircraft in the vicinity.