A Rs. 6,000-crore Indian airborne warning and control system (AWACS) has just got under way at defence research labs to add teeth to military surveillance on the borders, according to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director-General V.K. Saraswat.

The AWACS — with special electronic observation devices atop aircraft — will complement the smaller and homegrown AEW&CS (airborne early warning and control system) with three aircraft, Dr. Saraswat told a news conference here on Friday. “The AEW&CS (with an indigenous radar mounted on the imported Brazilian Embraer aircraft) is a major success of 2012. After this we are going to embark on the AWACS programme, which was recently cleared by the government,” Dr. Saraswat, who is also Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research, said. He was giving a brief on the customary seminar to be conducted during February 4-6 ahead of the ninth Aero India show at Yelahanka.

The Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems is the lead centre for both projects. AWACS aircraft are heavier, can fly longer and higher than the AEW&CS. They can give a 360-degree view of the territory and can electronically peek better into enemy territory. Countries deploy both the systems, he said.

A new subsonic ‘loitering’ missile, ‘Nirbhay’, which will not be detected by enemy radars, will be flown for the first time next month. It is in the final stage of integration at the Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore.

The DRDO has started initial work on a 20-25 tonne-class fifth generation fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. The plane with stealth or invisibility on enemy radars is apart from the Indo-Russian venture that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is developing in the 35-tonne class. 2012 was an excellent year for the aerospace labs, he said. The DRDO has development projects worth Rs. 80,000 crore, including these two projects, missiles, aircraft, unmanned air vehicles, avionics and others.

  • 2012 was an excellent year for the aerospace labs

  • DRDO has projects worth Rs. 80,000 crore