Gallium Battles: China’s Blockade Throws USA’s Radar Technology into Disarray

Girish Linganna

By Girish Linganna: Aerospace and Defence Technology

Starting from August 1st, China will require exporters to seek approval before sending certain gallium products to other countries. This new regulation has been implemented to protect China’s security and national interests.

The decision was the most recent action in a tense competition between the United States and China. Both countries have been responding to each other’s actions by imposing similar measures on semiconductor and other important technology industries.

Unleashing Power: Gallium’s Crucial Role in Cutting-Edge Defense Systems”

Gallium is formed during the bauxite processing to produce aluminum.

China dominates global gallium production, representing over 95% in 2020 and 2021. Over half of the United States’ gallium imports from 2018 to 2021 (53%) came from China.

Gallium is extensively used in advanced microelectronics like semiconductors and LEDs. It is crucial for US defense systems and military supply chains, particularly in high-energy radars such as the US Navy ‘s AN/SPY-6 and the Marine CorpsAN/TPS-80 G/ATOR radars.

The AN/SPY-6 is an advanced 3D radar used on the latest Arleigh Burke class destroyers. These ships use the Aegis combat system and are responsible for air and missile defense.

Aegis combat is a sophisticated defense system used on naval ships to detect and intercept threats like missiles and aircraft. It provides advanced protection and enhances the ship’s defensive capabilities.

The AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR is a 3D radar that detects various objects like drones, missiles, and rockets. It depends on gallium nitride (GaN) technology for its antennas and crucial components that are hard to replace.

“Gallium’s Crucial Role in High-Performance Radar Technology”

Gallium is a key component in the  of powerful radars due to its unique physical properties. Gallium has a low melting point and high boiling point, which allows it to operate in high-temperature environments without degrading.

In addition, it has high thermal conductivity and low electrical resistance, making it an excellent conductor of electricity.

One of the main ways gallium is used in radar technology is in the production of gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors.

These semiconductors can operate at higher frequencies, which allows for greater radar resolution and sensitivity.

This is because higher frequencies allow radar systems to detect smaller targets and distinguish them from background noise more effectively.

Gallium is also used in the production of radar components such as high-power amplifiers and switchers.

These components are critical to the performance of radar systems and require materials that can withstand high temperatures and operate efficiently at high frequencies.

Overall, gallium plays a vital role in the production of powerful radars by enabling the creation of high-frequency, high-temperature-resistant components that allow for greater resolution and sensitivity.

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