IAF’s AWACS eye-in-the-sky to be inducted Tuesday

May 22nd, 2009 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) The first of three Indian Air Force (IAF) Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), which will dramatically boost the IAF’s capabilities beyond conventional ground-based and tethered electromagnetic radars, will be inducted into the force here Tuesday.
On its maiden flight to India from Israel, where the cutting-edge technology Phalcon airborne radar was integrated with an Il-76 heavy-lift aircraft, the AWACS will first land at Jamnagar in western Gujarat Monday and will arrive at the military area of the Indira Gandhi International Airport here the following day.

“Although the AWACS are slated to operate from the Agra air base (home to the air force’s Il-76 and Il-78 transports and midair refuellers), the induction ceremony will be conducted in the national capital,” an IAF official said.

“The IAF’s AWACS will help pilots find hitherto unconceivable space and room for tactical manoeuvres in the air through real-time guidance that will give them an edge over their adversaries at all times,” the official added.

With the induction of the AWACS, India will join a club of only six other nations - the US, Russia, Britain, Japan, Australia and Turkey - that operate such a sophisticated system. Other countries - notably Pakistan, Brazil and Greece - too operate AWACS but at a much lower end of the scale in terms of capability.

With its ability to detect aircraft, cruise missiles and other flying objects at ranges far greater than is possible through existing systems, the AWACS can also collate surface information about troop movements and missile launches even while “listening-in” to highly confidential communications between the enemy’s front line units.

To this extent, the AWACS, as a potent force-multiplier, will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the IAF’s offensive and defensive operations. Given the intensity and pace of modern-day air warfare, the AWACS will provide an impregnable aerial umbrella to neutralise any incoming threat.

Sources at the Agra air base, one of the largest in the country and which has immense strategic importance, say that all preparations, including extending the runway and setting up an avionics lab, have been completed. The ground exploitation system that will sift through and disseminate the data transmitted by the AWACS is also ready.

The $1.1 billion deal for the three AWACS was signed in 2004. The IAF is also likely to purchase three more systems, with delivery slated to be completed by 2012.

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