Potentially, such a radar system could allow the Russians to develop a weapons quality track on a stealth aircraft if it proves to be successful.
Russia’s future sixth-generation fighter well as its next generation unmanned aircraft could be equipped with what is described as a “radio-photonic radar.”
If the Russians succeed in developing such systems, Moscow would be in possession of a sensor with far greater range and resolution—high enough to develop a three dimensional image of an airborne target—than anything currently in operation around the world. Potentially, such a radar system could allow the Russians to develop a weapons quality track on a stealth aircraft if it proves to be successful.
According to the state-owned TASS news agency, Russia’s RTI Group is expected to complete preliminary research and development—as well as built a mockup—of a X-band radio-photonic radar this year. That "will determine a principal scheme of building the radio-photonic locator," the RTI Group told TASS . That should allow the company "in several years to build prototypes of super-light and small-size radars for unmanned aerial vehicles."
Photonic radars "will be able to provide radio wave imaging when an image has greater details with the possibility to identify the target type," the RTI Group told TASS. That mirrors previous statements from the Radio-Electronic Technologies Group, which is generally better known by its Russian acronym KRET.
The Russians are not the first to start developing photonic radars. An Italian funded project called PHOtonic-based full DIgital Radar (PHODIR) developed the first fully photonics-based coherent radar system in 2014. A photonic radar replaces the traditional electronic circuits of conventional radars with lasers, optical filters and photodiodes to generate very precise, high-quality radio frequency signals. “While the photonic radar still uses radio waves to locate objects like conventional systems, the laser allows it to pulse highly tuned frequencies in a broad emission band from the tens of megahertz to possibly up to the hundreds of gigahertz,”