India plans large indigenous project for six powerful ‘eyes in the sky’ AWACS | India News
Defense sources said on Wednesday that the project, which involves mounting indigenous AESA (electronically scanned active matrix) radars with 360-degree coverage on six aircraft acquired from Air India, will soon gain initial approval or “acceptance of necessity. “by Rajnath Singh. -Leaded Defense Acquisitions Council.
The new project, which will involve cost sharing between the IAF and DRDO, is actually a recast of a previous plan to mount indigenous AESA radar on two new Airbus A-330 wide-body aircraft, which was on fire for the last five. years.
Under the new project, DRDO will acquire six smaller A-320 variants from Air India’s existing fleet, modify the aircraft structures, and then mount the radars on them.
Netra AEW & C aircraft
“This project for six AWACS or AEW & C (early warning and airborne control) aircraft will be much more profitable than the previous one to acquire two new A-330s from the European multinational company. DRDO has promised to deliver all six AWACS within four to seven years, ”said a source.
The IAF currently has only three Israeli Phalcon AWACS, with a range of 400 km and 360-degree radar coverage, and two indigenous “Netra” AEW & C aircraft. The latter have indigenous 240-degree coverage radars, with a range of 250 km, installed on smaller Brazilian Embraer-145 aircraft.
The acute operational need for additional AWACS was felt during the Balakot attacks and the subsequent air skirmish with Pakistani fighters in February last year. It has been reinforced by the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
Although the IAF needs at least 10 AWACS, repeated attempts to acquire more have yet to bear fruit due to the high costs involved. The long-pending IAF case for two more Israeli Phalcons mounted on Russian A-50 jets, worth more than $ 1.5 billion, for example, has yet to be approved by the Cabinet Security Committee.
AWACS can detect incoming fighters, cruise missiles, and drones long before ground-based radars, direct friendly fighters during air combat with enemy aircraft, and monitor the build-up of enemy troops and warships.
Not only China, but even Pakistan is ahead of India in this field. Pakistan has 8-10 Chinese Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 AWACS and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW & C. China, in turn, has around 30, including the Kong Jing-2000 “Mainring”, KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500.