NEW DELHI: India will go in for two more AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), the "formidable eyes in the sky", after the last of the three Israeli Phalcons already ordered is inducted in December.
IAF is also on course to induct a wide array of radars, from 19 LLTRs (low-level transportable radars) and four MPRs (medium-power radars) to four Aerostat and 30 indigenous medium-range Rohini systems, towards making Indian airspace as impregnable as possible.
All this is in tune with the crucial plan underway to set up five nodes of IACCS (integrated air command and control system) across the country, with the first one coming up in the western sector facing Pakistan, to plug existing gaps in the country's air defence coverage.
Seamless data transfer from civilian and military radars as well as AWACS, all networked under IACCS, will make it possible to get the "air situation picture" at a central place in realtime. This will ensure that swift counter-measures can be mounted to thwart aerial threats soon after they are detected.
"We have already moved the case for two more AWACS," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told TOI. These will be in addition to the three Phalcon AWACS already contracted under the $1.1 billion project finalised with Israel and Russia in March 2004.
The complex project, under which the Israeli 360-degree Phalcon early-warning radar and communication suites were mounted on Russian IL-76 heavy-lift military aircraft was hit by several technical delays.
Consequently, the first AWACS arrived in India only in May 2009 and the second in March 2010. The third is slated to be inducted by this year-end.
"Phalcon AWACS are tremendous force-multipliers. We are having an excellent experience with them. They will get their final operational clearance by October-November," said ACM Naik.
IAF's capabilities to detect and track troop build-ups or aircraft movements even deep inside enemy territory, much further than ground-based radars, have certainly registered a quantum jump with AWACS.
Apart from detection of incoming cruise missiles and aircraft from over 400-km away in all-weather conditions, AWACS are also used to direct air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets.
Moreover, IAF and Navy are also on course to induct nine more Aerostat radars after getting two Israeli EL/M-2083 radars in 2004-2005 for $145 million. Similarly, IAF is slated to begin inducting 19 LLTRs from October 2011 onwards, while deliveries of light-weight LLTRs will commence soon. Four MPRs are expected to be delivered by December 2011.
Incidentally, India is also pursuing a Rs 1,800 crore mini-AWACS project indigenously. Under this, the indigenous AEW&C systems developed by DRDO will be mounted on three Embraer-145 jets, being obtained from Brazil for $210 million.
One AWAC is in Agra and one probably in the Northeast with the centralization/integration of data that is occuring all gaps will be filled, along with 16 more indigenous AWACS planned to be produced in the next few years
Islamabad—India is holding unpublicized talks with Israel to purchase three more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) at the cost of more than US$1.5 billion.
According to defence observers the secret talks have already reached an advcance level between Indian and Israeli military officialsl but a final decision is expected by mid-May 2010.
Meanwhile the second of the three Israeli-made Phalcon contracted earlier reached India on Thursday evening. According to reports reaching here the second AWACS from Israel arrived in Gujarat and will be deployed in Agra’s Jamnagar air base. It is also learnt that a small group of Israeli defence experts had arrived in India apparently to link up Phalcon with Indian military satellites for enhanced surveillance activities in the region.
India first reached an accord in 2003 deal worth USD 1.1 billion to buy three AWACS from Israel to be incorporated with and mounted on Russian-make IL-76 heavy-lift transport aircraft, of which the first was delivered in May last year.
Since the induction of the first system on May 28 last year it is being operated by the Agra-based 50 squadron and has been carrying out extensive flying operations with India’s frontline fighters such as the Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and the Jaguars. The AWACS was also deployed at the recently-held major exercise codenamed ‘Vayushakti’ and controlled the flight operations of over 100 aircraft participating in the massive fire-power demonstration.
According to defence experts India was now considering to link the additional three AWACS with its first military satellite due to be launched by the middle of next year.
Meanwhile India has also reached a secret agreement with Israel’s Aerospace Industries (IAI) last week ordering additional ‘Heron’ MALE (medium-altitude, long endurance) drones, ground control systems and data terminals. The latest deal worth more than Indian Rs 700 crore was signed by the two sides last week but neither side has officially confirmed the accord.
According to a report apart from using Israeli UAVs for spying and directing precision-guided munitions, Indian Air Force is now looking to induct Israeli Harop ‘killer’ UAVs from 2011 onwards.
Harpy and Harop are kamikaze-type UAVs which perish with the targets, Predators and Reapers are more like fighters since return to their bases to get a fresh stock of missiles for new missions.
India has inducted well over 100 UAVs since the 1999 and the latest induction of Heron, Searcher II and Harpy ‘killer’ drones would strengthen further India’s goal to become well-equipped with attacker drones.
India and Israel are also working joint by on a Rs 1.2 crore project to acquire NRUAVs (naval rotary UAVs) or unmanned helicopters operating from warship decks for advanced ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) missions.
AWACs have to be in air to work................ they cannot be there for unlimited amount of time......... for that something on satellites is needed that is quite difficult. But ground base radar should be there.