Tuesday, July 20, 2010

India to purchase two more AWACS planes from Russia

India will purchase two additional Russian-made airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, the Times of India newspaper said on Monday.

India ordered three A-50EI variants fitted with Israeli-made Phalcon radar systems in 2004. The first aircraft was scheduled to arrive in 2007-08, but was subject to delays.

India received the first plane in May 2009 and the second in March 2010. It is expected that the third aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year.

"We have already moved the case for two more AWACS," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told the Times of India.
"Phalcon AWACS are tremendous force-multipliers. We are having an excellent experience with them. They will get their final operational clearance by October-November," said Naik said.

The aircraft are to be deployed in Agra with the IAF's 50 Squadron under the Allahabad-based Central Air Command, but will be assigned tasks directly by Air Headquarters.

In many aspects, the A-50 is comparable to the U.S. Air Force's E-3 Sentry. It is fitted with an aerial refueling system and electronic warfare equipment, and can detect targets up to 400 km (250 miles) away.

In 2009, India also purchased eight Boeing P-81 long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft from the United States, and signed a deal with Brazil to jointly integrate domestically developed AWACS systems into three Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft to be later commissioned with the Indian Air Force

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