The Indian Navy is set to acquire two aerostat radars from Israel to fill vital gaps in the coastal security setup in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack. This is the first time the Navy will operate the balloon-mounted air defence radars that have a detection range of over 500 km and can track low-flying aircraft.
The Navy has also started price negotiations to purchase close to 300 missiles for its Barak ship air defence systems after it was given the go-ahead to deal with Israels Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd that has been under the CBI scanner for alleged kickbacks during the NDA regime.
Sources said the Navy will shortly sign a deal to acquire two EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars,which are already in service with the air force,from Israel. While the acquisition was on the Navys shopping list for a long time,it was accelerated by the government after the Mumbai attack.
The new radars,mounted on a hot-air balloon tethered to the ground,will enhance the Navys ability to detect enemy aircraft by providing 3-D coverage in a radius of 500 km. Three aerostat radars,for example,will be able to give seamless coverage for the entire western coast. This would be in addition to the ground- based radars already being operated by the Navy.
The biggest advantage of an aerostat radar is that it is not fixed and can be moved to any location on the basis of the current threat perception. It will give us the flexibility to deploy it on a need basis, a senior Navy officer said.
The IAF currently operates two aerostat radars and has ordered four more from Israel to boost air-defence cover. One of the radars,which can be quickly deployed at different locations,was moved to southern India after the LTTE carried out air strikes against Sri Lankan targets in 2007.