India is close to finalising a developmental partner for a next generation radar that will be the eyes and ears of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in the future. With other contenders falling off the race due to different reasons, the race now is between European Consortium EADS and Israeli company Elta that are vying for the initial contract to co-develop 10 prototypes of an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with India.
While the initial contract is for 10 prototypes, industry estimates put the requirement of the Indian defence forces at close to 600 radars for different types of fighters, making the deal potentially worth over $ 3 billion over the next decade. The tenders for co-development were issued by DRDO’s Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) in December last year for the LCA Mk II that has already been approved by the government.
Sources said that LRDE is close to short listing its partner for the project and the competition now is between Elta and EADS, down from the initial bid by five companies that were vying for the potentially large contract. While EADS is showcasing its X band technology, Elta specialises in L band technology and is promoting its new generation X band antenna.
While US companies did not participate in the tender — apparently after they could not gain permission from the government to share the high end technology — Russia’s largest radar company Phazotron and France’s defence giant Thales were dropped due to technical reasons. Italian Selex did not make it to the next round after failing to deposit the earnest money specified in the tender.
The radar will also be considered for the SU 30 MKI upgrade and modernisation projects for front line fighters of the Navy and Air Force.