Surya’s Chariots: India’s AWACS Programs

DRDO's EMB-145SA AEW&C

EMB 145i AEW&C
(click to view full)

EMB-145i AEW&Cs will be late into service; EMB-145i mission system support provider confirmed.

December 5/17: Milestone¬†The Indian Air Force has successfully carried out its first air-to-air refeuling of its Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The ‘probe and drogue’ refuelling was carried out by an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker, with only ten minutes of refueling necessary to keep the platform flying for an additional four hours. Ordered in 2008, New Delhi has received the first two of three new EMB-145 aircraft and have been fitted with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed Netra AEW&C systems, which the IAF claims provide 240-degree coverage as well as surveillance ranges between 250 and 375 km.

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IL-76/A-50EI Phalcon (click to view full) In recent years India has been shifting toward aircraft that would give it the ability to patrol and act at extended ranges. In January 2004, India and Israel signed a $1.1 billion contract for 3 Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, as part of a $1.5 billion tripartite agreement with Russia. With the arrival of its first IL-76 Phalcon, India joined the global ranks of AWACS operators. The aircraft has to monitor huge swathes of Indian airspace, intercept communications and log radar frequencies, add some ground surveillance, and help command IAF responses. By 2012 India announced that it wanted to follow up on that procurement with native capabilities. In parallel, India has moved to implement AWACS capabilities on a smaller platform, in order to provide broader aircraft coverage of its territory. The goal there is to field a Tier 2 platform based on Embraer’s ERJ-145 jet, and Indian radar and electronics, allowing India to join the global ranks of AWACS designers. Just to make things interesting, their arch-rival Pakistan offers a contrasting case study, with quicker fielding of off-the shelf buys from China (Y-8 based ZDK-03) and Sweden (Saab 2000 Erieye). India’s […]

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