Toronto, ON, Canada, — Three weeks ago, an Indian AWACS – airborne warning and control system – plane made its debut over New Delhi. Two more are on order and will arrive in a year’s time. Additional purchases of this top-of-the-line plane in the near future will enhance India’s defensive posture against both China and Pakistan. A deal with Israel in 2004 to supply the Phalcon radar, which uses Active Phased Array Electronic Scanning Technology, cost India US$1.1 billion. Russia supplied India with its highly upgraded IL-76TD workhorse planes, which are fitted with powerful PS-90 engines, via Kazakhstan. This aircraft and its engines have been modified for the hot and humid climate of India. The above-mentioned acquisition is a force multiplier for the Indian Air Force. AWACS aircraft are able to detect any enemy airborne activity – including when and were enemy planes take off from bases up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) away and the direction in which they are heading – while staying 100 kilometers (62 miles) within its own border. Two of these AWACS aircraft patrolling the western front, well within India’s territory, can cover the sensitive Punjab-Rajasthan border. The Phalcon radar, the most sophisticated to date, can also collect surface information about troop movements and missile launches and can listen into highly confidential communications between Pakistan’s frontline units. Militarily, surveillance and advance knowledge of enemy activity is ultimately a force multiplier. An earlier version of this plane was used during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973. Israelis shot down most of the Syrian and Egyptian planes without losing any to the enemy, using the early version. The United States also used it during the Gulf War to take out Iraqi planes. The remaining Iraqi pilots of MiG-23s and MiG-29s fled to Iran to escape the terror in the sky. Israelis and Americans gave this technology the name AWACS because of its long-range capability. Similar technology mounted on a smaller but very capable plane is called AEW&C, for Airborne Early Warning & Control. Since India has a great deal of territory to cover, acquisition of smaller, more flexible planes with mounted surveillance radars makes sense. In this case, the radar and electronics can be homemade. India’s choice of aircraft for its own AEW&C system is Brazil’s Embraer 145 business/regional jet plane. The key word here is operational flexibility. Whereas the IL-76 AWACS aircraft requires a lot of area to take off and land, the Embraer can take off and land at smaller airports. This is key to a layered approach to surveillance, including hostile missiles. What does India’s hostile neighbor have for aerial surveillance? Pakistan does not want India to have the upper hand. Although it has U.S. money handy to match India’s military spending, nobody is selling them the advanced AWACS. So, they have settled for six Swedish SAAB-2000 turbo prop planes with Ericsson surveillance radars. The deal is worth US$1.5 billion. They would have preferred U.S. or Israeli phased ray radar but its unavailability changed their choice to SAAB/Ericsson. The latter is equipped with Saab Microwave Systems, Erieye surveillance radar and nine-hour loitering capability. This is as good as what the Swedes can supply, but lacks actual battlefield experience. At best these are comparable to India’s homegrown AEW&C. China lost to India when they negotiated the same deal with Israel to buy Phalcons in 2000-2001 as U.S. intervention prevented the technology transfer. The hardware, which could have gone to the Chinese, was switched to India.