India Gets First Locally Designed Early Warning and Control Aircraft
23:57 15.02.2017(updated 03:07 16.02.2017)
On Tuesday India's Air Force received the first three indigenously designed airborne early warning and control platforms (AEW&C) from the country's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
IHS reports that the DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) integrated the Netra AEW&C system, which provides surveillance ranges between 250 and 375 kilometers and 240-degree coverage, onto the Brazilian-made Embraer ERJ-145 platform.
The aircraft was handed over on the first day of this year's Aero India, a biennial aviation exhibit air show held at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. The event is Asia's largest airshow and featured over 550 aerospace and defense firms this year, including 279 foreign companies.
Developed by CABS, the AEW&C system can detect multiple targets at once including fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missile. It also features electronic and communication countermeasures, satellite communication systems, an active electronically scanned array radar (AESA), advanced identification probes, a secondary surveillance radar and beyond-line-of-sight datalinks.
The deal to secure three Embraers in 2008 made headlines made headlines after allegations of kickbacks surfaced that involved several other countries.
A senior IAF official told the Hindustan Times "The induction of the AEW&C aircraft is the highlight of the airshow for the air force," because "We need to swiftly scale up our airborne surveillance capabilities."
Officials say the aircraft has also obtained it initial operational clearance.
India's indigenous AEW&C program was first sanctioned in 2004 and ended up costing around $358 million. Issues with developing the AESA radar and cost overruns delayed the project for over six years.
The ERJ-145 has operational endurance of up to 5 hours, aided by its air-to-air refueling ability, and a self-protection suite that features radar warning receivers and missile approach.
According to DRDO officials,the platform can also deliver a 'recognisable air surveillance picture' of aerial threats using priority-track modes, search and track-while-scan to give their exact location to assets on the ground and in the air.
Earlier this month Dr. S. Christopher, head of DRDO, told reporters that the second AEW&C platform would be commissioned into IAF in the coming months, and is currently undergoing trials and certification.
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