The indigenous airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C) built by Defence Research and Development Organisation using modified Brazilian Embraer jets is cost effective and better than the Swedish systems owned by Pakistan, said DRDO chairman Dr S Christopher at an event in Gujarat University on Thursday.
Giving an insight into various modern technologies being developed for the military, Christopher, delivering the first i-talk organised by Gujarat Innovation Society (GIS), spoke about how DRDO’s AEW&C platform, christened “Netra”, was close to his heart since he was involved in it right from inception. “In 1985, we thought we should make an AWACS (airborne warning and control system) because at that time the US had brought in their own system,” Christopher said while narrating how the DRDO faced teething problems in the project, which also involved a crash.
The DRDO chief said they had gone for a simpler and smaller platform by using the Brazilian Embraer-145 jets when the project was restarted. “It started with a simpler and smaller platform that is the Embraer,” Christopher said, adding how the five-hour endurance of the system was expanded by adding a complex air-to-air refueling facility.
Claiming that the DRDO’s AWACS was cheaper than its Pakistani counterpart, Christopher said except for the aircraft, the electronics was indigenously made. “Except for the aircraft, all the electronics is ours. So when you compare the cost, it is less than what Pakistanis are having; the Swedish system. In addition to that, their aircraft itself is not as good as ours. It is because our is a jet and that is a turboprop,” the DRDO chief said. Pakistan has Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C from Sweden.
Tejas Mark-II to fly by 2022
Speaking of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Christopher said HAL had already got an order to manufacture 123 LCAs. “In addition to that, the air force has given in writing another 201 aircraft, which is the next version, that we call as Mark-II. We are working on it and by 2022 it will be flying,” he said.