New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation, the country's umbrella organisation that controls a multitude of defence laboratories whose work is spread across the spectrum of defence activities, is currently engaged in the development of an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) at a cost of Rs1,800 crore.
The programme has a probable date of completion in the year 2011, according to the information provided by defence minister AK Antony in a written reply to Naveen Jindal in the Lok Sabha today.
The minister said that development and manufacture of an indigenous radar is included in the AWACS programme.
An Indian AWACS
As part of a $1.1 billion deal, signed in 2004, Israel is to supply three Phalcon AWACS systems to India with its radar and other systems mounted on three Russian-built Il-76 aircraft. The first of these aircraft may be delivered sometime in August-September this year, instead of the earlier delivery date in November 2007. Subsequent deliveries of follow -on aircraft will be made at intervals of approximately 9 months.
As for an indigenous system, DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) was designated as the lead development agency in 2004, five years after the previous indigenously developed AWACS prototype crashed in 1999.
The first prototype from the new programme was due to take to the air in 2007 and enter service by 2010. This now stand altered with the Indian Air Force changing requirements from a small AWACS platform (Embraer EMB-145 type platform) to a larger Boeing/Airbus platform.
The IAF had said in 2005 that the Embraer EMB-145 platform could not fly above 40,000 feet and that the radar's planned coverage range of 300 kilometres and 240 degrees was inadequate.
The weight of a heavier AWACS, which would meet revised IAF requirements, has gone up from about 4,500 kilograms to more than 7,000 kilograms, according to reports.
A larger Boeing/Airbus platform would also increase the price of the AWACS by more than 40 per cent.
Domestic companies and laboratories currently working with the DRDO on the AWACS project include Bharat Electronics Ltd, the Defence Avionics Research Establishment, and the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment.