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08 Dec 10. The Indian Air Force(IAF)has entered the global market to procure Aerostat radars without giving repeat orders to Rafael of Israel. The Request For Information (RFI) has been issued to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, Thales, Israel Aero Space Industries and Rosoboronexport of Russia. The IAF plans to acquire three aerostat radars in addition to the existing three Israeli aerostat radars at a cost of over $330 million.

The Indian Air Force requires a balloon of around 71 meters which can be raised to a height of 15000 feet above sea level at standard day temperature. The vendors are to send technical information on payload capacity, maximum operating altitude, a period of continuous operation and the maximum time for raising and lowering the balloon. The vendor will also have to specify the operating temperature and the storage capabilities with temperature specification and whether the balloon can be stored with a maximum humidity of up to 95 per cent.

The payload would consist of advanced programmable radar (APR), Air Surveillance Radar which will have the capability to detect varieties of missiles, fighter aircraft at various ranges and include Surface Surveillance Radar and Combined Surveillance Radar for air and surface targets. Other requirements include, Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT), V/UHF radio telephony equipment and IFF. The system should give radar coverage from 10 to 350 kilometres and have a Common Integrated Display for primary and secondary radars at distant remote locations through networking. Based on the information provided a formal Request for Proposal will be prepared and floated globally in early 2011.

The ELINT frequency coverage will range between 500MHZ and 18 GHz, the range for COMMINTwill range between 30MHz and 18GHz. There should be not more than three broadband omni-antennae and not more than three D/F antennae for ELINT and COMINT systems. The Indian Air Force has a total requirement for 13 Aerostat radars.

The Indian Air Force has decided not to give a repeat order for aerostat radars to Rafael as there were some problems in the execution of offsets by the company in the repeat order. Besides, the Indian Air Force was not happy with the maintenance of the radars especially at a time when they faced problems in Punjab in July 2009 in bad weather.

One Aerostat radar was badly damaged in Punjab due to collapse of the crane in a gale, for which Rafael had sought $7 million as repair charges. The price quoted was considered very steep and thus the Indian defence ministry decided not to give repeat orders to Rafael for additional aerostat radars.

The Indian Air Force bought three Aerostat radars from Rafael in 2005 on single vendor basis when the offset clause was not in place in the Indian government’s defence procurement procedures. However, now the offset clause of a mandatory 30 per cent of total contract value will be applicable.

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