- Mar 28, 2016
Indonesia could be the first foreign customer for the DRDO-Embraer AEW&C system, designated Netra, within the next year, if interest from Jakarta is anything to go by. Livefist learns Indonesia, which first expressed interest in the system, has escalated its interest to a request for a systems demonstration, possibly in that country. The project has achieved initial operational clearance, with the first of two jets set to be handed over to its customer, the Indian Air Force, at the Aero India show — a terrific splash of an idea.
India’s DRDO has been ordered to aggressively and proactively pitch the new DRDO-Embraer AEW&C jet platform to foreign customers at Aero India 2017. With 52 countries at the show, the project team will hopefully have its hands full. Livefist can confirm the DRDO has received foreign interest (beyond preliminary enquiries) from Brazil itself, Israel and South Africa. “We have also received interest on just the sensor package developed by us for the platform, for fitment on other designated airborne platforms of countries in the interests of commonality or other compelling factors,” a member of the project told Livefist.
The AEW&CS (Air-Borne Early Warning and Control System) aircraft is based on a Brazilian manufactured Embraer ERJ-145 jet platform and has been cherished as ‘Netra’ by the forces. The aircraft following its induction will serve as the ears and eyes of the air force.
Three aerial platforms were acquired from Embraer at a cost of US $300 million. While the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to acquire two aircrafts, CABS – the lead developer – will retain a single platform for further developments and testing.
‘Netra’ showcases a high amount of indigenous technology and has emerged as one of the biggest success stories of the developmental agencies.
The Phalcon systems which are based on fuel guzzling Il-76 aircraft are extremely costly for short-range targets. ‘Netra’ however is extremely cost efficient and will thus help the air force and its operations.
The development of an indigenous AEW&CS system has come off the ages of experience and data gathered by the developmental agencies. India under the ‘Airavat program’ in the late 90’s unsuccessfully tried developing an aerial surveillance platform. This however failed mid-way after the lone prototype and the test bed platform – a HS -748 aircraft – crashed during one of the test flights.
‘Netra’ utilising its highly advanced AESA radar systems and the electronic sensors can detect, identify, classify and track multiple targets at long ranges. Two radiating planar arrays which are fitted in an active antenna array unit can detect and track targets as far as 500 kilometres away.
The system can pick up both aerial and ground based targets and utilizing the secure communication links it can then transmit acquired data to air-borne and surface based friendly assets. The aircraft can operate in multiple modes notable among them are the search, track-while-scan and priority track modes.
The aircraft can provide the ground exploitation stations with solid ‘Recognisable Air Surveillance Picture’ and further guide fighters and missiles on long range targets with pin-point accuracy. ‘Netra’ will be capable of tracking hundreds of aerial and ground targets simultaneously and can further communicate and control at least 40 friendly aircraft.