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India to base AEW&C system on western border

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The EMB-145 AEW&C aircraft. An Embraer photo

BANGALORE (PTI): India plans to base its indigenous Airborne Early Warning & Control system on the western border, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said on Thursday.

"Yes, we have identified. Work is going to start (on where it would be based)", said the Air Chief Marshal, adding that it will be in the western border to start with.

He was speaking at a press conference after a function to commemorate the arrival of AEW&C India aircraft, which is the fully modified EMB-145 regional jet of Brazil's Embraer aircraft manufacturer. "This (AEW&C) will be used for surveillance and control".

According to DRDO officials, the system would detect, identify and classify threats in the surveillance area and act as a command and control centre to support air operations.

After the operational requirements were firmed up between DRDO and IAF in 2007, the contract for three modified aircraft was finalised in August 2008. The first fully modified aircraft landed in Bangalore from Brazil a month ago.

The second aircraft is slated to arrive in December and the third one in 2013.

The Air Chief Marshal and Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister V K Saraswat said all the three aircraft are proposed to be operationalised by the IAF in April 2014.

Saraswat said, "We are (now) going to integrate our radars, our EW (electronic warfare) systems, missile warning system and many other systems (in AEW&C system)".

The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) is the nodal DRDO laboratory for this Rs 2,157 crore indigenous AEW&C system programme.

According to DRDO officials, the system consists of multiple sensors and will provide early warning about the enemy aircraft to the user.

The aircraft has modifications required to install Mission Systems such as Primary Radar, Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF), Electronic Support Measure, Communication Support Measure, Data Link, SATCOM, Mission Voice Communication System and Self Protection Suite along with Mission System Controller, Data Handling and Display System.

Already about 300 items developed by DRDO laboratories including CABS have been fitted and flying with the aircraft.

This includes the Active Electronically Scanned Array Antenna Unit.

CABS Director S Christopher said: "The indigenous AEW&C system is a multi-sensor system, providing for all aspects of, airborne early warning and control in today's defence scenario."

With extended flying support, provided by IAF, it would take slightly more than a year, for completing the integration and development flight trials, he said.

Saraswat, also Secretary in the Department of Defence R&D, said the development of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System-India) is now in the final stages of clearance.

The Air Chief Marshal said the proposed AWACS(I) would be "much large size aircraft". "We are in the process of identifying which platform we are going to have for the future (AWACS(I)", he said, adding, there are only 2-3 such configurations in the world at present.

He said IAF plans to have in operation (eventually) "close to 15 systems" (AEW&C and AWACS-I put together), noting that India is very large country, with long borders.

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India  AEW&C  Air Force  DRDO  
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