Agra air base ready to receive AWACS

September 27th, 2008 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Sep 27 (IANS) The air force base here has completed all preparations, including the extension of the runway and setting up of an avionics lab, to receive the new Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), termed as the “eye-in-the-sky”.“All the necessary preparations have been made for the induction of the AWACS. The runway has been extended, equipment is ready and avionics lab has been set up. The ground exploitation system needed to sift the information gathered by the AWACS is ready,” Air Commodore Shouvik Roy, air-officer-in-commanding of the base, told IANS.

The first of the three AWACS, being installed by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) on Russian II-78 platforms, was expected to be delivered by October. However, certain technical issues have delayed the delivery of the system.

The AWACS will bolster India’s air-surveillance capability multi-fold by enabling early detection of incoming hostile aircraft and directing suitable counter measures. The $1.1 billion deal for the AWACS was signed in 2004.

“This is one of the major inductions. We are well within the time schedule in terms of our preparation. An IAI team was here and they were satisfied with our infrastructure,” Roy said.

The Agra air force base is the largest air base in the country and has strategic importance as the squadrons of IL-78 mid-air refuellers, AN-32 transport aircraft, Avro transport aircraft, surface-to-air missile and a radar unit are located here.

“The AWACS will enhance our capability and would be a tremendous assets for us. Integration of AWACS and training of manpower is going on in Israel,” Roy added.

The three aircraft, which were taken from Russia to Israel by IAI, are being modified in a hangar at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion international airport.

The Indian Air Force is likely to purchase three more AWACS, taking the number to six. The delivery is slated to be completed by 2012.

The team, comprising of Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal N.A.K. Browne and director general acquisition Shashi Kant Sharma, has just returned from Israel after discussing the issues resulting in the delay of AWACS.

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