China, Pakistan Threat Perception Forces India To Accelerate AWACS Program

  • 12:00 AM, August 17, 2012
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China, Pakistan Threat Perception Forces India To Accelerate AWACS Program
After many delays and disruptions, India’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWAC) dreams have finally taken off with the latest delivery of an AWACS platform from Brazilian aircraft-maker Embraer. India, on Thursday, took delivery of the Embraer 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft following the completion of a host of tests conducted by both Embraer and the Indian Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) which designed the phased array radar which sits atop the aircraft. Since the mid-1980’s, India began developing the Airborne Surveillance Platform (ASP) project by the CABS a part of India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) with the end goal to produce an Airborne Early Warning System. However, the project was cancelled in 1999 when eight scientist and aircrew were killed after a prototype aircraft crashed. It wasn’t until 2004 that India would revive the project again, this time looking to Israel for to help develop the country’s surveillance potential. Under a $1.1 billion tripartite deal including Russia, India received its first three Israeli-made Phalcons, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS), to be mounted on a Russian Illyushin-76 heavy lift transport aircraft. In a follow-on contract worth $800 million, India in 2011 ordered another two advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS which will be delivered in 2015. Meanwhile, the DRDO is also pursuing development of the 3D Active Phased Array radar (AESA) for the Mark-2 version of the light combat fighter aircraft. Thrilled with the success of the AWACS, the DRDO is currently pushing for the development of an indigenous system that can work effectively at higher altitudes. Earlier this year, the DRDO sent a proposal to the Ministry of Defense requesting $45 million to develop indigenous AWACS for the IAF. The latest program is said to be launched in an effort to counter China and Pakistan, both of whom already have a large fleet of AWACS. Pakistan currently operates four Saab-2000 AEW&C aircraft with plans to induct four Chinese ZDK-03 AWACS. According to various reports, China operates approximately 20 AWACS. The Indian Air Force is also expecting mini-AWACS to be launched with the larger program which together will secure gaps in India’s border security. By Bindiya Thomas
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