Delays hit homegrown Awacs as Pak races ahead


India’s indigenous Awacs (airborne warning and control systems) or “eyes in the sky” project has been hit by delays even as Pakistan is fast closing the technological gap in this arena with China’s active help. Moreover, IAF‘s proposal to acquire two more Israeli Phalcon Awacs, after the first three were contracted under the $1.1-billion contract inked in March 2004, is yet to gather full steam. “There is in principle approval for two more Phalcon Awacs but negotiations are still in progress,” said a top defence ministry source.

Awacs or AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) systems can detect incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft much before ground-based radars, as also act as potent force-multipliers by directing air defence fighters during combat operations with enemy jets. They can also track troop build-ups far away in enemy territory.

The critical requirement for Awacs had led the Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to clear the Rs 1,800-crore indigenous project in October 2004, barely six months after the Phalcon deal.

The CCS had then set a time-frame of seven years for development of the homegrown mini- Awacs, under which AEW&C systems developed by DRDO are being mounted on three Embraer-145 jets obtained from Brazil for $210 million.

But these AEW&C planes are nowhere near even beginning their flight trials. The project completion date has now being extended to April 2014, which itself is set to be revised. “The aircraft and mission system availability is now scheduled for this year, with the integrated system availability pushed back to 2013,” said a MoD source.

Once operational, these aircraft are slated to have a normal radar range of 250 km and a 375-km extended one, with a 240-degree coverage and five-hour endurance time.

The Phalcon Awacs, with a detection range over 400 km, too, have suffered from technical glitches. Under the complex project, the Israeli 360° Phalcon early-warning radar and communication suite has been mounted on Russian IL-76 heavy-lift military aircraft.

The first Phalcon Awacs was originally scheduled for delivery in December 2007, with the second and third ones following in September 2008 and March 2009. But the first arrived only in May 2009 and the second in March 2010, with the third yet to be delivered. Awacs are a crucial element in the plan underway to set up five nodes of IACCS (integrated air command and control system) across the country.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Feb 8 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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