Radar expert Liu Yongtan (right) and defense engineering expert Qian Qihu were given the 2018 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award — the nation's highest scientific award — in Beijing on January 8. (Photo:VCG)
China's maritime early warning radar system is immune to "radar killer" missiles and is capable of detecting stealth aircraft, according to its developer in a recent interview with media.
The maritime radar system, developed by a team led by Chinese academician Liu Yongtan, can detect naval and aerial hostiles hundreds of kilometers away under any weather condition.
It features high frequency electromagnetic waves that have long wavelengths and wide beams, Liu said in an interview with the Naval and Merchant Ships magazine published this month.
While electromagnetic waves emitted by a normal radar travel in straight lines and, since the Earth is round, cannot help see what is beyond the horizon, the high frequency ones used by Liu's radar travel along the sea surface, and he said this makes it possible to detect and monitor vessels and aircraft beyond visual range.
The long wavelengths used by the system mean it could also detect stealth aircraft, Liu said. This is because current stealth aircraft are mainly designed to hide from microwaves and not waves of longer wavelengths, experts said.
The radar can also avoid attacks from anti-radiation missiles, thanks to the waves' wide beams, because such missiles cannot carry antenna large enough (to track them), Liu said.
Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Monday that stealth aircraft and anti-radiation missiles are two killers of radars.
Normal radars cannot detect stealth aircraft, and they would have to destroy radars first to let non-stealth aircraft in safely. An anti-radiation missile tracks an electromagnetic wave source, so it is the natural enemy of radars, Wei explained.
Liu's radar has a much higher chance of survival in a potential attack and can provide an umbrella for a sneak attack from stealth aircraft, Wei said.
A land-based version of the system can detect naval and aerial hostiles hundreds of kilometers away, which helps expand China's maritime early warning and defense depth, Liu said. Variants of the system can also be equipped on ships, providing them with early warning capabilities in the high seas with a much farther detection range, he said.
In January, Liu received the 2018 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award — the nation's highest scientific award with 8 million yuan ($1.17 million) prize — for his contributions to the development of the radar system.
Military experts said that Liu was awarded because he substantially enhanced the China's capability to resist external threats, as the radar system is dubbed a "country's first line of defense."