Buoyed by the success of its indigenous eye-in-the-sky last December,the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has pushed for a homemade version of the advanced Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) that can peer deep into enemy territory from higher altitudes.
Days before testing the maiden flight of its Airborne Early Warning & Control system in Brazil,the DRDO shot off a proposal to the Defence Ministry seeking Rs 850 crore to design and develop AWACS for the IAF.
The DRDOs proposal does not identify a technology partner but keeps open the option of taking on consultants as and when required. The aim is to develop long-range radars with onboard command,control and communications for both tactical and air defence forces from higher altitudes,says the proposal sent on November 21.
The AWACS is extremely useful for India in large conflicts as it surveys a wider expanse of airspace and coastlines,and can monitor large number of aircraft and warships from a greater height than the AEWCs. Moreover,it can provide a 360-degree coverage of aircraft movement and troop build-up nearly 400 km inside neighbouring terrains compared to normal 250 km (375 km extended) detection with a 240-degree vision of AEWCs.
The DRDO proposal highlights this ability of AWACS to track multiple targets through large distances,said sources.
So far,India has got three Phalcon AWACS,the last of which was delivered in mid-2011,from Israels Elta. A major follow-on contract has been rumored since April 2008 but the contract is yet to be signed.
Armed with more than double the number of control operator stations,AWACS can trap more electronic intelligence and communications intercepts from air as well as maritime and key border stations.
The Rs 1,800-crore AEWC development programme,approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in October 2004,was a major milestone towards realising the dream of indigenous AEWC to put India into a select club of countries.