The Indian Air Force plans to buy two new Airborne Early Warning Systems from Israel, Russian has been put on hold after a steep hike in price.
"The price of the two new AWACS has been quoted very high. Vendors have asked for more as compared to the cost of the three planes bought earlier. It cannot be agreed to and that is why the programme has been stalled," senior government sources were quoted as saying by India Today Monday.
The Indian Air Force has three Ilyushin-76 AWACS systems acquired from Russia equipped with two Israeli radars at the cost of $1.1 billion to carry out surveillance of enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles at ranges up to 400-500 km inside their territory.
"The main reason behind the steep jump in the price is the almost three-fold increase in the price of the IL-76 planes, on which the radars have to be mounted," sources said. It was earlier expected that the deal would be clinched at the time of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel earlier this year, but it could not be completed.
The issue over the high price has been holding the deal for a long time. On several past occasions the issue of acquiring the AWACs has been coming up at meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is the apex body of the Defence ministry to acquire weapon systems for the armed forces.
India now operates three Phalcon AWACS with Israeli radars mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft, under a $1-billion tripartite deal with Russia, signed in 2003.
India is in negotiations for the purchase of two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS). The CCS had approved the deal for additional AWACS last year
India has also decided to develop an indigenous AWACS as the DAC has given clearance to a proposal to acquire two Airbus-330 planes and build an AWACS, which can provide 360-degree surveillance like the Israeli radar.
The project would start with two planes, which are likely to take five to six years to be completed and once they are successful, the DRDO would take sanction for six more aircraft under the programme.
The process of completing trials of DRDO-developed Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft is on. These are smaller in size and have 240-degree coverage. AEWC planes have been deployed at Bathinda and undergoing trials, after which they would be used for operational flying by the service.
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