With Pakistan and China slowly adding teeth to their spying capabilities with the induction of new AWACS systems, India is taking no chance and is hurrying up the launch of it’s own full-blown futuristic AWACS programme.
Clearances are underway from the Ministry of Defence to initially develop two AWACS aircraft with four more to follow at a later stage. The AWACS-India project will be executed by DRDO and Bangalore based Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS).
A 360 degree AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars will be mounted on large aircrafts like the IL-76, Boeing or Airbus. AWACS act as force multipliers and have changed the nature of modern warfare. They can detect any incoming aerial threat ranging from cruise missiles to fighter jets much before ground-based radars.
The system is used offensively to direct fighters to their target locations, and defensively in order to counter attacks by enemy forces from both air and ground. Pakistan possesses four Sweedish Saab-2000 AEW&C aircraft with four more Chinese ZDK-03 AWACS in the pipeline. On the other hand, China has a mix of 20 new and old AWACS systems in it’s inventory. The IAF however has only three AWACS which were recently purchased from Israel & Russia under a USD 1.1 billion deal in the face of a growing hostile neighbourhood.
The option for India to purchase two more Phalcon AWACS from Israel has run into rough weather due to sharp cost escalation.
The DRDO is currently developing a mini-AWACS for the IAF which will be mounted on the Embraer aircraft which is purchased from Brazil. Officials from the DRDO have said that the project completion date will be April 2014.
The IAF is waiting for the completion of the mini-AWACS programme with crossed fingers.
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