India’s fleet of Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft could increase to five from three, with New Delhi preparing to ink $1 billion-worth contracts with both Israel and Russia.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is expected to give the green-light after extensive inter-ministerial consultations, sources told Times of India Wednesday.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Phalcon early-warning radar systems will be mounted on Russian Ilyushin-76 A-50 heavy-lift aircraft. The AEW&C, in a nutshell, gives early warning of incoming hostile aircraft and missiles.
While the radar systems come with a price tag of $1 billion, the aircraft will cost another billion dollars. Delivery of the planes will be completed in three years from the date of signing of the contract.
India already has three of these aircraft it bought in 2004, besides two indigenous “Netra” mini-AEW&C planes (Embraer-145) with a 250km range, in its roster. Indigenous DRDO system is equipped with a 240-degree coverage radar. In contrast, Phalcons provide 360-degree coverage over a 400km range.
Under the tri-partite 2004 agreement between Israel, India and Russia; Israel and India signed a $1.1 billion deal for three IAI AEW&C radar systems, each of which was worth approximately $350 million. Another contract worth $500 million was signed with Russia’s Ilyushin for three Il-76 A-50s.
India’s neighbour China has around 30 such systems including Kong Jing-2000 “Mainring,” KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500 aircraft. Pakistan has eight Chinese-made Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW&C planes and is on course to get more from China.