IAF's desi Eye in the Sky

The Indian Air Force will induct the first indigenously developed all weather airborne early warning and control system -Eye in the Sky -later this month. This is expected to augment the country's ability to detect cruise missiles, fighter jets or drones from Pakistan and China.

The country currently has three Phalcon airborne warning and control system, which uses the Israeli early warning radars mounted in domes on top of IL-76 aircraft.

The warning system, developed by Bengaluru's Centre for Airborne Systems and integrated on Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft at a cost of Rs.2,200 crore, has completed tests and certification.

The first system is ready for induction and the second is being certified. The third one is yet to reach the final stages.

The system is equipped with a 240-degree coverage radars, while Phalcons provide a 360-degree view over a 400 km range. The new system is equipped with multiple communication and data links that can alert and direct fighters against threats. Besides, it will support the air force in strike missions and in tactical battle areas.

This induction doesn't bring India any closer to China or Pakistan in the early-warning system race. China has at least 20 early-warning systems, including some that can track over 60 aircraft up to 470 km range. Pakistan has four Swedish Saab-2000 AeW&C aircraft and four Chinese-origin Awacs.

Keeping this in mind, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council in March 2016 cleared building of two Awacs. This will involve mounting 360-degree coverage radars on widebody Airbus A-330 jets. The Rs.5,113-crore project seeks to induct eight such aircraft under Awacs India in seven years.

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