AWACS will change Asia's military dynamics

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
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.
 

A.V.

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
6,503
Likes
1,132
Like India in the late nineties, China began experimenting with home built AWACS. Initially they turned to Russia and purchased Beriev A-50 radar planes. These are exact copies of the U.S. E-3 Sentry radar planes except that they were mounted on Russian Il-76 aircrafts. Totally dissatisfied, they began experimenting with their own phased ray radar. Their experimental AWACS crashed in 2006, killing forty of their best scientists and technicians. China wants to dump it in favor of Boeing 737-800 planes.

The Boeing plane with homemade Chinese radars is dubbed as KJ-2000. Equipped by the most modern technology, which China can lay its hands on, three such planes are being built. The KJ-2000’s radar has a range of about 300 kilometers. It is the nearest match to what the U.S. flies in and around Taiwan. Although the Chinese are happy with their decision, improvements are a long way off in the absence of relevant technology, which it has not yet received.

Realizing that India is ahead in this force multiplier acquisition and nobody else is able to supply them, Pakistan has been making attempts to convince the Chinese to acquire similar planes on their behalf for an undisclosed sum.

Last year the Chinese KJ-2000 was seen at Pakistan’s Chakalala airport giving an operational demonstration. China is very keen to secure a deal with Pakistan on these aircrafts, as it will help them defray their huge developmental costs.

The intimidation factor of AWACS is immense. Imagine Pakistan planning a major air raid in India over Srinagar, Kashmir and poised to fly super secret missions from its airports in Rawalpindi, Sialkote, and Sargodha, which are about 200 kilometers from the Indian border. The success of such missions depend on the element of surprise they achieve and an Indian AWACS flying a surveillance mission in a wide arc over Kashmir, Punjab and the Ladakh region can detect Pakistan’s aerial movements and ambush it.

Concurrently, the Swedish made Pakistani AEW&C and possibly Chinese AWACS can also detect India’s movements. Realizing that the mission is doomed Pakistan’s high command could call off the raids. So, AWACS can avoid an ugly aerial fight.

AWACS and AEW&C planes are not invulnerable. They fly 200-300 kilometers away from the hostile war zones. A concerted effort from enemy fighters could force it to retreat far beyond its 300-kilometer safe distance. As a turbo-prop heavy lift plane is very vulnerable to Beyond-Visual-Range attacks, it needs an escort of fighters to ward off such threats.

Imagine a Chinese air attack on central Indian air bases in the wake of their ground losses in India’s Ladakh region or their inability to capture Twang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. They could send their SU-27’s over the Himalayas from bases far away or send cruise missiles from bases closer to the Tibet-India border. The early knowledge of incoming planes or missiles will help India in beating back the air attack and saving its air assets. Without the early warnings from AWACS, Indian airbases are very vulnerable to enemy attacks. So, AWACS is a big asset.

At sea, India’s recent contract with Boeing for six, P-8I, long-range reconnaissance planes will greatly enhance India’s sea reconnaissance capability. These planes will be data linked with other air surveillance planes, surface ships and space based assets. This US$2.1 billion purchase together with AWACS and AEW&C are designed to warn hostile forces to stay as far away from Indian interests as possible.

Still, all the forgoing is an enhanced defensive posture of India. It will soon be enhanced with locally developed and externally purchased fighter jets, which will take the fight to the enemy.

The shape of India’s armed forces, which was dull and dreary for the last fifty years, is about to be modernized with an offensive punch in next 5 to 10 years.

--

(Hari Sud is a retired vice president of C-I-L Inc., a former investment strategies analyst and international relations manager. A graduate of Punjab University and the University of Missouri, he has lived in Canada for the past 34 years. ©Copyright Hari Sud.)

AWACS will change Asia's military dynamics - upiasia.com
 

screwterrorists

Founding Member
Regular Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
76
Likes
0
hey
general question for everyone. i recently came across a peice of news which said first Phalcon will be delivered on march 2009....i thought the first one was delivered a couple of weeks ago?
 

sagar

Regular Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
381
Likes
806
Country flag
PHALCON AWACS Delivery Schedule for March 2009 | India Defence

PHALCON AWACS Delivery Schedule for March 2009




Dated 15/2/2009
Printer Friendly Subscribe
IAF will now have to wait till March end for Israeli airborne early warning system, whose induction has already been delayed by 16 months, DDI News reported on Friday.

"The Israeli PHALCON airborne early warning and control system (AWACS), which will provide the IAF an eye in the skies to perform surveillance and reconnaissance roles, will arrive in India only by March end," a senior IAF officer said in New Delhi on Friday.

The AWACS mounted on Russian-made IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft was originally scheduled to be delivered by the Israel Aerospace Industries by November 2007, but could not meet the deadline.

AWACS, a major force multiplier for the Air Force, can provide advance information even as an enemy fighter jet takes off from enemy territory, giving enough time for the IAF to scramble its own fighter jets to counter the enemy aircraft.

It is also an important link in the IAF's plans to go network centric by establishing an advanced Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) through the Air Force Net (AFNET) communication network.

"With IAF rapidly progressing with its network centricity plans, AWACS will be an important element...the air link...in the IACCS," the officer said.

The AWACS will link the IAF's ground and air-based weapon platforms and communication system, which would be vital for IAF's network-centric operations.

With IAF aiming to become a network-centric force by 2010-11, it has been trying to inter-link its land, air and space assets and platforms to provide real-time information for increasing its situational awareness during conflicts.

Under the AFNET project, the IAF has already linked about 70 percent of its land-based assets and platforms to the IACCS, the officer said.

India had in March 2004 signed an USD 1.1 billion deal with Israel for three AWACS fitted on IL-76 platforms that would help IAF detect incoming hostile cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles much before ground-based radars track the rogue flying machines.

IAF's Agra air base has geared up to receive the first AWACS and has got its infrastructure improved by extending the runway, establishing an avionics lab, and integrating ground systems for future operations.
 

nitesh

Mob Control Manager
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
7,550
Likes
1,279
hey
general question for everyone. i recently came across a peice of news which said first Phalcon will be delivered on march 2009....i thought the first one was delivered a couple of weeks ago?
There were news that it has been delivered ahead of schedule as the original date was march 2009 only. So let the march come and then see:)
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
24,595
Likes
21,231
Country flag
India's first Phalcon AWACS system arrives ahead of schedule

domain-b.com : India's first Phalcon AWACS system arrives ahead of schedule




India's first Phalcon AWACS system arrives ahead of schedule news
15 January 2009




New Delhi: Israel has dispatched the first of the three Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to India ahead of a reworked delivery schedule. Reports suggest the aircraft arrived at New Delhi's Palam airport on 11 January 2009 from where it has now moved to the Indian Air Force's base at Agra.

The surprise development takes place even as relations between India and Pakistan continue to deteriorate post-Mumbai terror attacks. According to the re-worked delivery schedule the first Phalcon was to arrive only in February 2009.

Image: Beriev.comUnder a $1.1 billion deal signed in March 2004, Israel was contracted to supply three Phalcon airborne warning and control systems. These systems were to be mated with Ilyushin-76 heavy military transport aircraft. The deliveries were originally intended to commence in November 2007, but were subsequently postponed to the end of 2008 and further to February 2009.

According to the revised delivery schedule, the first aircraft was to be delivered in February 2009 with the second and third ones now expected in September 2009 and April 2010.

Reports emerging in early November 2008 suggested that India may have contracted for a fourth Il-76 mounted Phalcon AWACS system from Israel. It is said to be keen on building up its Phalcon AWACS fleet to a strength of six.

The Israeli Phalcon AWACS will enable the IAF to carry out tactical surveillance over a radius of 400 kilometers and collect surface target information deep inside Pakistan even as the aircraft operates within Indian airspace.

An electronically steered beam emitting from a solid-state phased array Elta EL/M-2075 radar, mounted on a radome above the fuselage, provides a 360 degree coverage around the aircraft.

It is also being suggested that the AWACS will eventually be networked with other air force assets through a dedicated satellite.

India has an indigenous AWACS programme being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which signed a deal last year with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer for the purchase of three EMB-145 aircraft for use as an AWACS platform.

These aircraft will be modified to carry an Active Array Antenna Unit, developed by the DRDO, on their fuselage.

{Image: Beriev.comLast month Pakistan announced a $278 million deal with the People's Republic of China for the purchase of a modern Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS).

The Chinese AWACS system has been under development since 2004, sometime after the Americans stopped the Israeli government from selling the Phalcon system to Beijing.

According to details provided to Pakistani legislators China will provide the system to Pakistan over the next four years. The PRC has also made a critical concession to cash-strapped Pakistan agreeing to make deliveries on a deferred payment basis.

For India, its tactical surveillance responsibilities are currently being shouldered by a fleet of Israeli-made Searcher and Heron UAVs.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
24,595
Likes
21,231
Country flag
Articles #1347 , The Value of the Phalcon AWACS for India

The Value of the Phalcon AWACS for India
Prashant Dikshit
Deputy Director, IPCS

The long awaited AWACS (Air Borne Warning and Control Systems) is eventually being inducted in the Indian Air Force. Israeli Phalcon Radar is being integrated on the Russian IL-76 A-50 Beriev Transport jets under Indian supervision and the software programmes are being written by Indian specialists. The Indian endeavour in obtaining this vigorously pursued and revolutionary augmentation to country’s air defence network has not been without loss of resources, lives and a period of two decades when it comes to fruition hopefully in 2005. An indigenous and ambitious project of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Airborne Surveillance Warning and Control Systems (ASWAC) in the past was halted by the government when in 1999 the “experimental system” crashed in the mother AVRO aircraft in the hills of Tamil Nadu. The accident was caused by the rotodome shearing off and hitting the tail of the aircraft. The IAF then tested the Russian AE-50 system, a variant of the IL-76 aircraft and found it unsatisfactory. The Israeli option seemingly coincided with the cancellation, under strident opposition from US government, of an identical and highly advanced, joint Chinese-Israeli development programme. The Indian programme survived a similar opposition from US largely due to a favourable tilt in the American stance and Israeli lobbying.



A critical appraisal of this acquisition must be done in the light of the foremost requirement of an Air Defence Network. Its purpose is to provide an adequate early warning of the airborne hostile intruder so that a timely interception can be undertaken before it penetrates airspace sought to be brought under control. And in the conduct of defensive counter air operations the ultimate goal would be to suppress all opposition in the designated airspace. During peace time and in advancing battle zones the requirements remain same. In the Indian context the extent of this warning is restricted for low flying vehicles operating below Radar cover due to the inherent limitation of a ground based system not able to detect up to desired ranges. The benefits of the “Over the Horizon Radar” accrue to the Phalcon AWACS, by operating at about 30,000 feet and thus being able to monitor low level activity in the air space up to ranges of 500 km. On India’s western borders, such surveillance over sea will yield optimum results in reporting both air and sea activity. Over land, advantages of detection ranges may have to be marginally forsaken to protect the AWACS aircraft against SAMS but ranges of 400 km are possible with tactical routing. Formidable gains in detection ranges are most likely across the Himalayan Ranges on the northern borders where Radar Units could not be located due to an inhospitable terrain.



An AWACS is a control centre which can track 100 targets and intercept at least half of them simultaneously with aircraft and SAMS; each engagement closely monitored and reported in real time. The sobriquet “Force multiplier” justifies as economies of effort and resources are nearly quadrupled. The operations are supported by onboard ECM (electronic counter measures) and ECCM (electronic counter counter measures) systems for electronic warfare. Passive Comint and Elint devices record data up to1000 km and “data link” to ground stations. Although an ESM package is incorporated for self protection, this expensive and crucially important platform should not be operated without suitable fighter protection especially in a hostile environment.



The AWACS’ ability to deal with threats from missiles must be seen within the context of the composite mother network. The Phalcon radar is designed to scan from ground level to about 40,000 feet and all moving objects in this envelope of air space are detectable except for objects returning a smaller radar cross section. A low flying cruise missile for example has a radar cross section of about .005 metre at a range of 200 km and may thus reduce the extent of early warning and logically the US is upgrading its space assets to detect such intrusion. In cases of high trajectory incoming ICBM/ IRBM, other ground based radars would have detected the missiles well before they start painting on the Phalcon Radar. A separate project on the installation of the “Big Pine” Radar system is already on the anvil for detecting missile threats. This acquisition is being seen as the forerunner to the futuristic systems for the active missile defences in the Indian air space which are currently absent.



The selection of the IL-76 aircraft as the airborne platform for the Radar is an appropriate choice as the Indian Air Force possesses adequate experience and infrastructure to operate the aircraft. The advanced technology dispenses with the rotating Radar. However, with the induction limited to only three systems for an equal number of aircraft, the schedules of AWACS operations will have to be limited to and kept focused for developing hostile scenarios only.
 

nitesh

Mob Control Manager
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
7,550
Likes
1,279
Delay?

http://www.hindu.com/2009/03/02/stories/2009030259591600.htm

First Phalcon radar system to arrive in May

Ravi Sharma

It was ordered in March 2004

It will provide IAF with intelligence inputs

Second Phalcon will arrive in late 2009; the third in 2010

BANGALORE: The first of the three Israeli-manufactured Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) radar systems that have been ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) will arrive in India only in May, 18 months behind schedule.

The IAF will shortly depute an ‘Acceptance Team’ that will go to Israel to receive the first Phalcon Airborne Early Warning (AEW) suite that has been mounted on a radome above the fuselage of a Russian-built Il-76 heavy lift transport aircraft.

Tactical surveillance

Ordered in March 2004 at a cost of $1.1billion, the three ‘eye in the sky’ airborne radar systems will provide the IAF with intelligence inputs, helping it to maintain air superiority, improve strike capabilities and conduct tactical surveillance over a radius of 400 km.

Confirming the impending arrival, officials from the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elta Systems — the two Israeli firms that have collaborated in the manufacture of the Phalcon radar system and its mating on the Il-76 — told The Hindu during the recent Aero India 2009 air show that the second Phalcon would arrive in late 2009 while the third would arrive by mid 2010.

Sources, however, said the project, which saw collaborative efforts from a range of nations and companies, ran into trouble during the integration of the plethora of European and Israeli origin systems, most notably the long-range, high-powered transmit/receive (T/R) modules, on the Russian platform.


One of the world’s most advanced airborne surveillance systems, the Phalcon’s Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar, permits 360 degree coverage, “tracking high manoeuvring targets and low-flying objects hundreds of kilometres away, under all weather conditions, in both day and night.”

The IAF, which is looking to order three more Phalcons, is planning to network them with other air and ground assets through data link and eventually the planned dedicated Air Force satellite that is to be launched by mid-2010. The Phalcons will be based at Air Force Station Agra.

Presently, the only platforms offering such capabilities in India in a limited way are the spy planes of the Research and Analysis Wing’s Aviation Research Centre and the IAF’s limited fleet of Israeli-built Heron and Searcher-II drones.
 

nitesh

Mob Control Manager
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
7,550
Likes
1,279
India to get Phalcon AWACS on May 18 - India - The Times of India

India to get Phalcon AWACS on May 18
23 Apr 2009, 1623 hrs IST, PTI


JERUSALEM: India will get its first 'eye in the sky', the Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), aircraft on May 18, which will provide the IAF means to track incoming missiles and look deep into the neighbouring countries without violating any air space.

The first Phalcon was inspected by top Indian Defence officials who came here to check the specially modified Russian IL-76 aircraft and set May 18 as the delivery date.

"The other two aircraft would be delivered by Mid or late 2010, if everything goes on schedule," Defence sources said here today.

The delivery of the aircraft bought at a whopping price of $1.1 billion is almost a year and a half behind schedule. As per the tripartite deal between India, Russia and Israel, the aircraft should have been delivered by the end of March this year.

India and Israel are reported to be in advanced negotiations for the purchase of three more Phalcon AWACS, which the IAF proposes to integrate with other air and ground assets.

All the six AWACS would be linked with the country's first military satellite proposed to be launched by mid next year.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
24,595
Likes
21,231
Country flag
After long wait, IAF to get first Phalcon AWACS on May 20 - India - The Times of India


After long wait, IAF to get first Phalcon AWACS on May 20
8 May 2009, 0225 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The long wait is finally over. IAF will get its most potent force-multiplier in the shape of the Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and

control systems), or "the eye in the sky'', from Israel on May 20.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal F H Major on Thursday confirmed that the first of the three Phalcon AWACS, under the $1.1-billion deal signed in March 2004, will be landing in India in the third week of this month, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The Phalcon AWACS will bolster IAF's capabilities to detect and track troop build-ups or aircraft movements deep inside Pakistan, much further than ground-based radars, while flying well within Indian airspace.

AWACS are primarily used for detection of incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft from hundreds of km away in all-weather conditions as well as directing air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets.

"Phalcon AWACS, for instance, will be able to detect a two square metre target from over 200 km away. Bigger targets can be spotted from 400 to 500 km away. They will be based at the Agra airbase,'' said a senior officer.

Under the March 2004 deal, the first AWACS was to be delivered to India in December 2007, the second in September 2008 and the third in March 2009. But the complex integration work of mounting the Israeli Phalcon early-warning radar and communication suite on Russian heavy-lift IL-76 military aircraft, under a tripartite agreement among India, Israel and Russia, led to the long delay.

"The other two AWACS should reach India sometime next year. We have been awaiting them for quite some time now, having already exercised with the US and French air forces to get a feel of AWACS. Our teams have also been to Israel to get properly trained,'' said another officer.

Incidentally, IAF and Navy are also on course to induct nine more Israeli Aerostat radars as a "follow-on'' order to the two such EL/M-2083 radars procured in 2004-2005 for $145 million.

Aerostat radars, basically sensors mounted to blimp-like large balloons tethered to the ground, and AWACS together will go a long way in boosting air defence capabilities, making the country's airspace much more impregnable.

India, too, is pursuing a 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. The Rs 1,800-crore project, however, is running quite late and the first flight-testing of the AEW&C plane is unlikely to take place as scheduled in 2012.
 

nitesh

Mob Control Manager
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
7,550
Likes
1,279
The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Northeast | Air chief for security boost

“From May 20, we will be getting the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) which will help the air force to be alert. Moreover, some Hawk jet trainers have also been acquired to see that the air force is well equipped,” the air chief, who will be retiring on May 31, said.

After long wait, IAF to get first Phalcon AWACS on May 20 - India - The Times of India

Incidentally, IAF and Navy are also on course to induct nine more Israeli Aerostat radars as a "follow-on'' order to the two such EL/M-2083 radars procured in 2004-2005 for $145 million.
 

nitesh

Mob Control Manager
Senior Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
7,550
Likes
1,279
cross posting:

AFP: India to get early warning radar system

The delivery by Israel of the sophisticated Phalcon early warning radar surveillance system, set for May 20, will also mark another milestone in growing military ties with the Jewish state.

The AWACS "will be deployed straight away," air force spokesman T.K. Singha told AFP.
Now this is interesting or pure DDM

The Phalcon AWACS can simultaneously track nearly 250 flying objects within a radius of 800 kilometres (500 miles) and also has a "look-down" capability allowing it to monitor movements on the ground or at sea, officials say.
 

Yusuf

GUARDIAN
Super Mod
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
24,322
Likes
11,624
Country flag
I dont know from where they got the figure from the range. Tried to look up but could not get the numbers even from Israeli sites.
 

Yusuf

GUARDIAN
Super Mod
Joined
Mar 24, 2009
Messages
24,322
Likes
11,624
Country flag
I gathered the E-2D has a range greater than 400 miles and can track 2000 targets simultaneously and detect 20,000 targets.

So a detection range of 500 miles is realistic.
 

kuku

Respected Member
Regular Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
507
Likes
3
I gathered the E-2D has a range greater than 400 miles and can track 2000 targets simultaneously and detect 20,000 targets.

So a detection range of 500 miles is realistic.
I do not think anyone has released data on the size and performance of the A-ESA on the plane, so its all guess work.

The standard figures of EL/M-2075 are not applicable as this is somewhat a customised platform.
 

Vinod2070

मध्यस्थ
Ambassador
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
2,557
Likes
103
Saw the following on another forum. SHows another side of Awacs!

A good read. I would highly recommend to read in full.

Early Warning - The Phalcon “Phallacy”

Analysis of this Threat
[Air Commodore (Retd) SHAHID KAMAL KHAN]

Here we go again. Keeping up with the Joneses! Or more precisely, staying down with the Banyas. If the Indians are bent upon hurting themselves, why should we be left behind? And, if they are planning to hurt themselves a little bit, let us really upstage them. Let us hurt like hell. We now have over eleven billion dollars in the kitty. What better way to hurt than to buy ourselves an AWACS? And you can bet your bottom dollar that our AWACS is going to be better than the Indian Phalcon. And I do not mean “bottom dollar” in the proverbial sense, I actually mean the last greenback at the bottom of our national reserve pile; our AWACS is going to be the best money can buy. So that Pakistanis everywhere are able to look their Indian counterparts in the eye and say, “Mine is better than yours. It is bigger than yours. It can stay up longer, it can go further, penetrate deeper. Mine performs round the clock, day and night, in clear skies and in bad weather, over land, over sea, at high altitude and at low level. Mess with us and you can kiss your cute little synthetic aperture goodbye”.

The Indians are going to buy the Phalcon Airborne Radar and Command Centre. Pakistan is already studying the consequences of this acquisition and developing responses. The first, the unavoidable knee jerk response, is already very apparent. They have one. Let us have one too. Hopefully others, more prudent, more cogent shall follow. This article aims to present a somewhat different perception of this addition to the Indian military inventory. It is an attempt to temper our exuberance as we try to blow the issue out of proportion and argue the case for acquiring a similar capability for our nation. It may also to inject some rationality in the debilitating arms race in the Subcontinent.

Vision is a truly bountiful gift of God. Our eyes collect data which the optic nerve feeds to our brains where information is sifted, assimilated, analyzed, options formed, and the best course of action or, indeed, inaction determined. The further out one is able to see, the more information there is to be gathered and the more prepared one can be for dealing with the situation as it unfolds. At the ridiculous end of this vision scale is the ostrich that prefers not to see and buries its head in the sand while at the sublime end is Man's constant endeavour to peer into all distances, real and imagined, actual and contrived, physical and metaphysical, worldly and extraterrestrial. Man probes all corners, recesses, depths and heights in an attempt to understand and, having understood, man is forewarned. Being forewarned, he can then be forearmed.

To achieve expanded visibility, man has devised a whole series of physical, optical and electronic aids ranging from the simple to the esoteric. We are able to look through scanning electron microscopes powerful enough to display sub-atomic structures. We can gaze through a Hubble telescope that provides us with spectacular glimpses into interstellar space. We can “look” electronically at distant galaxies and can “listen” to telephone conversations across the world. We have trained dolphins to see for us under water, we have recruited bats to scan the night skies. Man's quest for knowledge prompts these advancements; modern technology enables them. The range of information we can access is truly impressive.

There is, however, one serious problem with an extended field of view. And that is that the more you can see, the more there is that can scare you!

Especially if you are faint of heart and feeble of mind.

Which unfortunately is largely the case for the residents of the Sub-Continent.

Our most impressive athletic ability perhaps is jumping to conclusions and, given this propensity of ours to overreact, it is perhaps not too good an idea for us to see a whole lot more than what is absolutely necessary! At least this is my experience. Let me share it with you.

When I first became an operational pilot in the Pakistan Air Force, we had but three fighter bases in what was then West Pakistan! At each base there were multiple squadrons that went about their peacetime task of training for war. Air combat, air to air gunnery, strike missions, air to ground bombing, navigation, instrument flying, night sorties. Heady, operational stuff. One other duty was Air Defence Alert (ADA). Standing by at short notice ready for immediate launch, prepared to intercept any intruder that ventured into Pakistani airspace. Each squadron carried out this duty for a few days each month, the aim being to keep the aircrew, the facilities and the procedures tuned for any eventuality.

Being detailed for ADA was actually a welcome break from the demanding Squadron routine. It was also a duty that had tremendous emotional content. It was an exhilarating experience to go into an underground environment, fully clad in our flying gear, Anti G suit donned, helmets at the ready. Above our subterranean refuge were readied fighters, all systems tested, switches on, systems primed, poised for launch. It was a place where senior pilots of the Squadron, normally aloof and distant, would mingle with us, the juniors. Comrades in arms, the Squadron Commander and the junior-most pilot together, trading pleasantries in intimate surroundings. It was also a gastronomic delight. Instead of the insipid mess food, bachelors were treated to home cooked meals of mouthwatering taste cooked lovingly by wives who believed that their husbands were out there on the front line laying their lives on the line for the country! The ADA complex was a different world altogether. Buried underground, accessed through a complex series of gates, passages and barriers, it was a world of red lights, multiple phone banks, land lines, secure encrypted electronic devices, coded phone rings, cipher messages, passwords and check words, silent signals, hand gestures, meaningful glances, all extremely impressive and adrenalin pumping stuff. One word, a simple call, would have the sirens wailing, lights flashing, us racing, first on the ground then on the runway and finally into the blue yonder to take on any intruder that ventured into our territory.

ADA was fun, it was the stuff stories are made of, it was heroism as depicted in war movies. Being on ADA also meant missing the dreaded PT and Parade! And equally importantly, ADA was also, to borrow a phrase from the younger generation, a babe magnet! In those days no officer could be seen in the mess premises in flying gear. That is, nobody except the ADA pilots. They could roam the Officers Mess fully clad in flying gear, helmets in hand. The Anti G suit was and perhaps still is an amazing article of apparel that transforms the most plain of men into handsome heroes. Women have their wonderbras; fighter pilots their Anti G suits!

And then, Pakistan acquired PADS 77, a highly sophisticated and modern low level radar system consisting of a contiguous chain of low level radars, supported by high level radars, linked by radio relays, controlled by operations centres. It was a complex system comprising command consoles, large screen displays, impressive electronics, sophisticated technologies; a computer controlled network that enabled real time, accurate and highly detailed continuous coverage of all aerial activity both in height and in depth. Huge portions of our borders were “lit up” and we were able to see anything that moved at any altitude. Not only could we monitor activity within our own frontiers, we could also see well beyond our borders. And, by that time, we had also expanded from our original three fighter bases to more than double that number. The entire Pakistan countryside was dotted with modern, fully equipped airfields, linked together in a well planned infrastructure in support of an Air Force which was already recognized as one of the finest in the world.

With PADS 77 and its multifold increase in our visibility, the inevitable had to happen. ADA became a permanent feature of our peacetime operations. Something truly romantic was transformed into tedious routine.

Being prepared is a key to being successful. Forewarned is forearmed. Well begun is half done. These are platitudes that not only sound nice but also are worthy of being implemented. However, these need to be weighed against another set of similar sentiments such as prudence being the better part of valour, waste not want not, act, don't react and similar sensible exhortations.

Whereas PADS 77 was undoubtedly a major force multiplier and something that had a truly sobering effect on any adventurism that our eastern neighbour may have had in mind, it also caused us considerable grief. An unhealthy part of the entire Air Force effort was spent flying air defence missions, scrambling for aircraft flying in the circuit of forward air bases of our neighbour, intercepting Siberian geese on their winter journey to the south, chasing elusive weather phenomena, furiously trying to lock on and intercept spurious computer generated blips and other such false tracks. Once scrambled for these nebulous targets, interceptor aircraft were prevented from doing any meaningful air exercise by virtue of their being fully armed, “hot” guns and “cooled” missiles.

Not that this could have been avoided. Over the years not only had we added air bases to our infrastructure, the nation too had developed a whole series of facilities, industries, factories, businesses, dams, bridges and other national structures that were potential targets for any hostile forces. And the political climate had not been too favourable either. Only six years before this induction of PADS 77 we had witnessed the dismemberment of our country, we had fought an inconclusive war. The wounds were still raw.

Given this situation, continuous ADA was an absolute necessity. And, with such heightened readiness, it was naïve to imagine that there could be an air defence commander cool enough, bold enough and perhaps stupid enough to ignore what appeared to be a developing threat. No one in his right mind could sit back in the hope that what the displays showed was a flock of geese, an electromagnetic aberration, a false alarm.

But then, ironically, this is exactly what early warning is all about. Early warning can only be improved upon if you maintain your present reaction status and enhance your visibility. If however, as you increase your ability to see further, deeper, in greater detail AND you then simultaneously elect to respond to any perceived threat more rapidly and at greater distance, warning times have NOT improved. All that you have actually done is increased your agony, prolonged your exposure and fretted for a longer duration. In acquiring the ability to see further, you have simply amplified your insecurity. You have also ensured colossal waste of precious resources.

Consider this. Four high speed tracks are picked up well outside our borders heading towards Pakistan at low level, high speed. Basic calculations indicate that if these aircraft continue on this path, they would reach our borders in five minutes and, if they have an evil intent, they could be reaching one of our sensitive installations (Vulnerable Point or VP, in Air Defence jargon) another five minutes later. The Air Defence commander has no option but to move his interceptor force to an ever increasing state of readiness. Five minutes away would most probably warrant moving pilots into cockpits from their underground bunkers thereby saving valuable minutes to launch. As the four blips approach two minutes short of our border, the Air Defence Commander would necessarily launch the fighter aircraft considering that they have to cover a fair distance to be in position to defend the VP. In less than a minute, two or more jets thunder down the runway and get airborne, accelerating in a ear shattering dash across the skies towards the hostile intruders. And, if the Commander cannot be sure which direction they may turn when the blips cross the border, he may scramble more than one pair from more than one base.

This happens fairly routinely across the length and breadth of our country. The good part is that nothing much ever happens beyond this. The approaching aircraft turn out to be transiting aircraft landing at a border airfield, migrating geese or pilots with poor navigation ability or something equally innocuous. The fighters are recalled and everyone stands down. The bad part is that precious resources have been expended.

Events such as these, lost pilots, transiting aircraft, migrating birds, anomalous propagation have always happened. Before 1977 we could not see them happening and therefore did not respond. Post 1977 we can and therefore we do; indeed we must.

Contemplate this. Analyze it, Assimilate it. This done, Extrapolate.
When we could only see high level, distant threats, we reacted in a particular manner. When we acquired a low level visibility slightly beyond our borders, our response was much larger, much more widespread, much more reactive.

What if we could see farther, better, and in greater detail?
Would we respond less, the same or more?
Before you answer, ponder upon this in all seriousness.
What would WE do if we had an AWACS?

And while you do so, let me narrate another illustrative experience where enhanced visibility and blinkered vision exist side by side.

Join me at Thirty Thousand Feet. In pitch black darkness, in a jewel studded night sky over the North West Frontier Province at CAP Station Alpha. In an F-16 cockpit twiddling knobs, pressing buttons, listening to the ALR-69 Radar Warning Receiver, selecting threat libraries, identifying blips, monitoring radio transmissions and performing a host of other complex tasks. Working the APG-66 radar, varying tilt angles, scan modes, zooming in to targets, locking, unlocking, zooming out to distant targets, trying to identify, sort and prioritize the threat posed by each one of the blips that appear on the airborne radar display screen.

This is a particularly busy night. Some major ground action is underway, fully supported by air power. The small, square radar screen between my knees is lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree with multiple targets at various ranges, different altitudes and differing speeds. Those six slow moving blips flying low, close to the ground are obviously night attack helicopters probably targeting some Mujahideen ground concentrations. The four faster, higher targets conclusively identified as specialized ground attack aircraft in a weapon delivery pattern, dropping flares, lighting up the area for both the helicopters and themselves as they pound the earth below. Another set of four blips further back, patrolling at fifteen thousand feet. Obviously fighters, judging by their speed and other parameters that the on-board systems have analyzed. Parked high above and beyond the ground combat zone, these lethal machines providing cover and the wherewithal to assist the ponderous, heavily laden, less manoeuvrable ground attack aircraft in case they are attacked. And the lone blip, well in the distance, lumbering across the sky in a defined orbit. The Airborne Command Centre from where this major ground assault, fully supported by air assets is most probably being orchestrated. Watching me watching them. More blips dotted across the screen. Aircraft transiting back to base, having done their bit and soon, another set of blips indicating the arrival of replacements.

At CAP Station Alpha we are able to look deep inside Afghanistan while remaining safely inside our borders. Powerful sensors on board the F-16 provide us this very sobering vision. Our task is to watch and ensure that the action does not drift into our airspace. Airborne early warning packing a lethal punch.

The eastern sky starts to light up in an amazing kaleidoscope of colour, hues and radiating shafts of brilliance. Dawn comes early at this altitude. Down below, still in darkness, my replacements are preparing to come up, take over from me and continue the vigil as the new day approaches. A pair of day interceptors are getting ready to take off as soon as the day breaks at ground level. Fast, nimble, lightweight and lethal but without the radar and the other electronics that the F-16 carries. The replacements are machines optimized for clear weather, daytime combat. piloted by bright, talented. hawkeyed pilots who work closely with ground based radars and use their sharp visual acquisition skills to pick up threats in the sky. Pilots trained and skilled in “burn and turn” tactics, excelling in fighting Within Visual Range.

Soon their voices come crackling across on the radio. Sharp, fresh, confident, mutually supportive calls confirming to each other “tails clear”, a term designed to confirm the absence of any threat in their cone of vulnerability.

Here am I in my modern cockpit surrounded with technology providing me with a fairly sobering picture of what lies out there, and there they are, completely oblivious of the threat. This is not as foolhardy as it sounds; the combat ready pair is fully capable of taking on any hostile aircraft that enters its zone of lethality. They sing a different song, they dance to a different tune. They know their tactics well. Tactics based on forcing the enemy to come within their visual range if he is to hurt them. Tactics based on long range visual acquisition of anything airborne. Tactics that ensure that once an enemy is sighted, he is outmanoeuvred and overwhelmed. Brilliant, gut wrenching tactics. These pilots do not see what lies beyond their considerable visual acquisition range. Frankly, they couldn't care less. A lethal punch with negligible early warning.

Contemplate this. Analyze it, Assimilate it. This done, Extrapolate.
When we could only see high level, distant threats, we reacted in a particular manner. When we acquired a low level visibility slightly beyond our borders, our response was much larger, much more widespread, much more reactive. And when we employ air intercept (AI) radar equipped aircraft our actions and reactions are completely different from when we operate using non-AI equipped aircraft.
Continued..
 

Vinod2070

मध्यस्थ
Ambassador
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
2,557
Likes
103
What do we do when we see farther, better, and in greater detail? How do we respond? What would we do if we had an AWACS? And if the answer is what it must be, why then should the Indians act any differently.

The Phalcon has to be the Indian nemesis. While it shall definitely provide them the vision and an ability to track our moves, it would also require of them to interpret these moves of ours. This they must perforce do so in a manner based on their perceptions and their experiences, their responses fashioned by their mindsets. They have traditionally been suspicious of each and every move of ours. There is no reason to believe that this shall change with the acquisition of any early warning system, airborne or otherwise. As their ability to see our movement increases, so must their suspicions that we are up to no good. This is bound to drive them into a state of frenzy. And this is what we need to capitalize upon.

Nations that do not have developed arms industries, Third World countries that purchase weaponry from abroad, nations such as Pakistan will always go to war with what they have on their inventory. Wars will be short, fierce and expensive. More importantly, there shall be no replenishment of anything. Fuel, bullets, Surface to Air Missiles, radars, tanks, guns, pilots, soldiers, sailors; Nothing. Anyone that preaches otherwise is being delusional or self-serving. Those that believe in lingering low intensity conflicts between two nuclear armed nations with the rest of the world watching from the sidelines need to rethink their concepts. Indeed, if ever Pakistan is forced into a lingering conflict, both our war stamina and prudence dictate a national strategy that either produces a political resolution rapidly or else precipitates the situation into a high intensity, short duration encounter. For doubters, just revisit the tried and tested the Principles of War. And analyze what's happening around us. This is what results when established principles are ignored.

This is the strategic imperative, stated perforce in summary here. There is an attendant requirement; a reevaluation of tactics. I have always believed that the concept of SEAD, Suppression of Enemy Air Defences is nugatory. In short duration, fixed inventory fights the aim should be to do exactly the opposite. We must actually have a well-developed strategy of Enemy Air Defence Excitation. We must trigger the enemy air defences frequently, repeatedly, realistically. Excite them in a manner that ensures that he expends his limited resources while we conserve ours. Defence Suppression enables the exact opposite. The enemy conserves while we expend.

We need to develop and deploy a substantial arsenal of drones, decoys, spurious track generators. False targets, false alarms, real engagements, real responses. Cheap and plentiful triggers forcing expensive and complex solutions. Electronic emitters that duplicate radar signatures of strike aircraft. Long range artillery shells that dispense clouds of intelligent micro emitters deep inside hostile territory. These are but examples; there are many, many more options, cheaper, better, indigenously produced and sophisticated enough that can fool the Phalcon. To be more precise, fool the Indians that fly the Phalcon. Of this I am sure.


The Phalcon system shall enable the Indians to see more. Let us show them more. A whole lot more. Let us devise means that overwhelm their early warning systems. Let us excite their defences, encourage them to expend their weapons, their energies, their countermeasures. Let us deplete their inventory and their will. Done rightly and purposefully it can redress the force imbalance at far lesser cost and with substantially more effectiveness.

Or we can buy ourselves an AWACS package and see a whole lot more ourselves. Redeploy to Quetta and other distant locations that provide us strategic depth! Far away places where we can protect our big fat assets while we scare ourselves to death!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Air Commodore (Retd) Shahid Kamal Khan was born in Abbottabad, Pakistan in I948. He was commissioned in the PAF in 1966 and retired in August, 1998. During a service span of 32 years as a fighter pilot, he flew all frontline aircraft of the PAF. Additionally, he held many important operational, training and staff assignments in the PAF. For his meritorious services, Air Cdre Shahid was awarded both the Tamgha-e-Basalat and the Sitara-e-Basalat by the Government of Pakistan. He also achieved the enviable distinction of qualifying for an A1 Category both as an Instructor Pilot and an Operational Pilot. He is a graduate of the Royal Air Force Academy, Cranwell and completed his Staff Studies from RAF Staff College, Bracknell, England. He has also studied at the University of Southern California, USA. He can be reached at [email protected] __________________
Even though this person may be smug about what he is sure of and reflects the cheap Pakistani belief that their air force is somehow superior (after losing every war!), I think he raises some important points.

I am sure these issues will be taken into account while we operate these new toys.
 

jackprince

Turning into a frog
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
3,084
Likes
4,579
Country flag
A Layman's Opinion:

The man might know his stuff, but even then this article of his self-serving. He completely ignored the 'control' part of the AWACS! An AWACS is force multiplier not for having only a better radar or loitering time, but for being able to see wider battle scenario and controlling the flights accordingly, who knows in future they might be able to supply mid-flight target update to BVRAAMs launched by fighters thus freeing them to engage another target. AWACS would certainly relieve a fighter pilot from worrying about complete battle scenario.

Also, Indian resources may not be great but it is also not as little as he stated too. It would be particularly vast compared to Pakistan. We are getting our own military production line on-line gradually; and many of the instruments are being made under license production or indigenous. So if a war breaks Pakistan may run out of weapons and parts, India still will have a quite good support structure to speed up production. Indian economy is strong enough to support IAF and it is getting better each day, when Pak's is falling apart. China could may be exhaust Indian resources, Pak can only dream of.

Pakistan air force will have to expend its own resources too for keeping up the faints and false alarm rate - granted that may be less compared to Indian efforts in response to them, but Pakistan also has much less resources than India too. And who says India wouldn't start replying them in kind? In which case Pak resources will expend in lot faster than India too.

He also seemed to have forgotten that we are enemy countries, so it's our moral duty to keep each other on edge. :wink: So even if their wouldn't be an AWACS, the same feints and false alarms would be caused regardless. Only with AWACS we will have a minutes early warning and preparation time if there is a real hostilities, which is very much likely in not so far future.

He also seemed to mourn the time of glorious idleness when threat-alert was few due to tech. disadvantages. But he seemed to have forgotten that it is air forces duty and responsibility to stay ready and alert to respond to possible threat. Particularly in case of Air Force not doing proper modernization of the force and tech. is liability, which in turn most likely to turn in burnt planes.
 

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads

Articles

Top