India Focuses on Developing Indigenous AWACS


2014-01-19 By Gulshan Luthra

New Delhi. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working towards indigenous AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems Aircraft) by about 2020.

Dr Avinash Chander, DRDO chief and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, told India Strategic in an interview that some initial capabilities had been achieved and it is now natural to progress towards creating this tremendous asset for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The radar, the key element of the AWACS, will be a rotating rotodome with electronic scanning, and as the space requirements for the equipment are considerable, DRDO was looking at either the Boeing 767 or Airbus A 330 as the platform.

There have been some discussions with their manufacturers on what can be done. Once the specifications are frozen and government sanction obtained, an Expression of Interest would be invited from them, and then an RfP (Request for Proposals – or tender) would be issued.

The development of the radars and sensors would continue in parallel. After that, the key task and challenge would be their integration on the aircraft. “Our design works are progressing but the key is the integration of the equipment on the aircraft,” he observed.

Notably, IAF is looking for some 10 AWACS in the next decade.

At present, IAF has three Israeli Phalcon AWACS fitted on board Russian-supplied IL 76 aircraft. An AWACS has a range of around 400 km or more.

Two smaller AEWs fitted on Embraer 145 aircraft should also be with IAF by mid-2014.

But numbers are important as not all aircraft can be in the air all the time and IAF has large areas to scan all around India.

As for the rotodome, Dr Chander explained that the static radars, which scna electronically, have some limitation of a blind area as it is fitted on the fuselage of an aircraft. With a rotating dish – or antenna – it can cover 360 degrees.

The radar being developed by DRDO will have both physical rotation and electronic rotation of the radar waves.

Notably, as both the aircraft are civilian airliners, their maintenance will not be problem as there are a large number of engineering and technical personnel available in India. The choice of payload in terms of weight and configuration would eventually help decide the choice of the aircraft as well.

Re-published with permission of India Strategic