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By Bulbul Singh

09 Jul 08. India’s delayed homegrown AWACS requirement has progressed with the signing of a deal worth $210m with Embraer of Brazil for purchase of three EMB-145 platforms. The contract includes a comprehensive logistics package comprised of training, technical support, spare parts, and ground support equipment.

The homegrown $450m AWACS program had been grounded, in the face of objections by the Indian Air Force, despite being formally approved in September 2004 because of delay in the purchase of a suitable platform.

Embraer of Brazilian has also supplied India with five Legacy jets to be used for VIP transport.

The first of these Embraer-based AWACS would be inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) by 2011, claimed a defence ministry official

The EMB-145 basic aircraft will be modified at Embraer’s Brazilian facilities, and will also flight test the modified EMB-145 with a dummy AAAU to ensure that the aircraft will be able to carry the load and perform to the satisfaction of the Indian Air Force.

The primary systems and sub-systems of the mini AWACS will consist of Radar, IFF Interrogator, Microwave Data Link, Electronic Support Measures, Operator Display Consoles with tactical software, Microwave data link and air-to-air voice and data channels. Besides it will also have satellite communication links and search and rescue capabilities.

The AWACS is built on a platform with 30000kgs capacity while the primary and secondary radar, mounted above the fuselage together with its associated electronics and support structures would need around 10000kgs. Consequently, around 20000 kilograms will be left for the cabin, mounted hardware of the radar, IFF interrogator, Operator Works stations, ESM systems and Mission crew.

In 1999, the homegrown DRDO AWACS program was suspended following the crash of the Indian Airborne Surveillance Platform (ASP) during test trials.

The development of the AWACS is in addition to the 2005 purchase of three Israeli Phalcon AWACS. The Phalcon radars are to be mounted on the Russian IL-76 and delivery of the first of the three AWACS will arrive in mid-2009.

The Phalcons were contracted in 2004 for $1.1bn following a tripartite understanding between India, Uzbekistan, which has made the aircraft and Israel.

The Phalcons, are to be based in Agra near New Delhi and are planned to be integrated with the Aerospace Command being establishment and linked to a dedicated satellite. AWACS will ultimately give the required reach for the Indian Air Force, said an Indian Air Force official after being integrated with other airborne assets through the satellite.

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