India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Israel, has planned to develop a long-range Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) with a 360-degree coverage.
The system will be similar to the Phalcon A-50 long-range AWACS. It would take six years to get the system “totally functional”, India's Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said.
"The DRDO has set its sights on a much larger and more capable system," Manohar Parrikar said after handing over the first indigenously developed airborne early warning and control system, Netra, to the Indian Air Force at Aero India last week, The Hindu reported today.
The DRDO plans to develop two AWACS at first and then another four. “As the AWACS is much heavier, it needs a bigger aircraft. They would be based on an Airbus A-330. It has already been short-listed through a global process...,” he said.
The proposal is awaiting approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
G. Sateesh Reddy, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said this created the technological base for electronic warfare in the country.
“From now on, we are going to make more advanced systems with a longer range of 400 km and better coverage. The step after that is miniaturisation,” he said.
India is also in negotiations with Israel to buy two more Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) mounted on Russian IL-76 aircraft to add to the three systems in service. Officials are hopeful of concluding the deal before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Tel Aviv possibly in June.
“The gaps in AWACS were being corrected. Various programs were being pursued simultaneously,” the defense minister added.
“We have improved the serviceability of our AWACS by purchasing the shortfalls through emergency powers, so their availability is better,” he said referring to the recent emergency purchases of spares by the IAF for its platforms.
The Netra AEW&C system would join the three Phalcon A-50 long-range AWACS mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft.
These aerial radars, called eye-in-the-sky, are game-changers in warfare. The Netra AEW&C system has indigenous radar mounted on the Embraer Emb-145 aircraft and three systems are being developed. The system handed over is in the initial operational configuration (IOC).
The DRDO will carry out an advanced testing of the systems and avionics on the Netra and the final operational configuration is expected to be achieved by June. By then, the second system will also be ready.