Success of the AEW&CS will boost IAF’s confidence: V.K. Saraswat

The Air Force aims to beef up air defence this decade with a mix of at least 15 large and small surveillance aircraft — or air-borne warning systems — Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Normal Anil Kumar Browne said here on Thursday.

An ambitious AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) India project to have more powerful surveillance systems on long-range aircraft is awaiting government's approval, he said.

While the IAF already has three Russian-Israeli AWACS to keep vigil over the borders (it may top them up with two more), it is open to having new aircraft for the remaining AWACS, Air Chief Marshal Browne indicated at a news conference related to the indigenous and smaller Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS) surveillance programme.

“AWACS India project deals with much larger sized aircraft, incorporating some technologies like the phased array radars. We are in the process of identifying the platform [the aircraft] we are going to have for the future,” he said.

The present AWACS has an Israeli Phalcon radar system mounted on the Russian Ilyushin (IL-76) aircraft. The overall plan was to supplement them with ten smaller versions, or AEW&CS, in the next seven years, he said.

The Air Chief was speaking after an event to mark the arrival of the first of three modified Brazilian Embraer EMB 145 aircraft that will be fitted with the AEW&CS developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

‘Cynosure of the world’

Dr. V.K.Saraswat, DRDO Director-General and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said the success of the AEW&CS would boost IAF’s confidence in the development of AWACS India system, which he said was in the final stages of clearance.

The Rs 2157-crore AEW&CS project involving three Embraer aircraft was contracted in August 2008. The first aircraft arrived in Bangalore on July 22. The second plane is due in December this year and the third next year. Post-trials, the three would be put into service. The challenge before the DRDO was to integrate its system with the aircraft, he said.

“By 2014, when we fully operationalise the three aircraft and they join IAF in an operational role, they will be the cynosure of the world.” The amount of work done on the aircraft and the elements put on it are unique,” he said.

The radar pictures and data from the aircraft would be transferred to the Air Force Network as part of the Integrated Air Command & Control System. “The AEW&CS will expand the air defence and networking environment of the Air Force. The IAF is keenly looking forward to its joining our principal fleets. We have identified where it will be based and what its role will be,” he said.

Some of the indigenous technologies from the AEW&CS would be adapted for the AWACS.

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