NEW DELHI --- India plans to launch a major Rs 10,500 crore project to indigenously develop six airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, which act as powerful “eyes in the sky” to look deep into enemy territory in modern-day warfare.
Defence sources on Wednesday said the project, which entails mounting indigenous 360-degree coverage AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars on six aircraft acquired from Air India, is set to soon get the initial approval or “acceptance of necessity” by the Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisitions Council.
The new project, which will involve cost-sharing between the IAF and DRDO, is actually a recast of an earlier plan to mount the indigenous AESA radar on two new Airbus A-330 wide-body jets, which was hanging fire for the last five years.
Under the new project, DRDO will acquire six smaller A-320 variants from the existing Air India fleet, get the airframes modified, and then mount the radars on them.
“This project for six AWACS or advanced AEW&C (airborne early-warning and control) aircraft will be much more cost-effective than the earlier one of acquiring two new A-330s from the European multi-national company. DRDO has promised to deliver the six AWACS in a four-to-seven year timeframe,” said a source. (end of excerpt)
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