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May 28, 2009

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The Intruder Alarm Report 2020

IAF inducts ‘eye-in-the-sky’ AWACS

The Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) — the Phalcon Israeli radar system – was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) by Defence Minister A K Antony, on Thursday.

With this, the IAF got its first “eye-in-the-sky.” The induction of the first of the three AWACS will help in detecting incoming flying weapons and listen-in to aerial communications. The remaining two AWACS are expected to be delivered by the year end.

The giant IL-76 aircraft can simultaneously track nearly 250 flying objects within a radius of 800 km and also has a ‘look-down’ capability. India is one of the few countries that has this facility. India is the first country in South Asia to own an AWACS.

The airframe of the Russian aircraft has been changed to accommodate the Israeli radar system under a tripartite agreement. The AWACS carries the largest and heaviest dome. With its 360 degree phased-array radars they will form the IAF’s “eyes and ears-in-the-sky”.

‘Force-multiplier’ to be stationed at Agra

The aircraft, in the newly formed 50 Squadron, will be stationed at Agra, the largest and one of the most strategically important airbases in the country.

The AWACS is a tripartite venture amongst India, Russia and Israel. The IAF laid down the operational requirements in detail based on which the Israeli ‘Phalcon’ radar was mounted on the Russian IL-76 aircraft equipped with the more powerful PS-90A engines making it more advanced than many such systems.

The AWACS is a true ‘force-multiplier’ that gives a quantum jump to the operational capabilities of the Indian Air Force and is capable of detecting intruders over sea and land at large distances.

It has many other capabilities including electronic and signal intelligence gathering. Once operationalised alongwith the Operational Data Link (ODL), Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) and the Air Force Net (AFNET), the IAF would have taken a definitive step towards Net Centric Operations.

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