IAF is all set to enhance its strategic capability with the arrival of second Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), also known as eye-in-the-sky, in March reports news agency IANS.
The induction of AWACS, mounted on a Russian Ilyushin-76 airframe, will look deep into our neighbouring countries and detect incoming missiles and aircraft from hundreds of kilometres away in all-weather conditions. It will also help detect troop build-up in territories around us.
The AWACS project is a tripartite contract between India, Israel and Russia. The $1.1 billion deal for the three AWACS was signed in 2004. The first AWACS arrived in May 2009, when it landed at Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat, escorted by IAF fighters.
With the induction of AWACS, India has joined an elite club of six nations that include – US, Russia, Japan, Britain, Australia and Turkey, to operate such a sophisticated system. Pakistan, Greece and Brazil operate similar systems but of much lower capability.
According to a source, apart from the three confirmed orders, keeping the recent Chinese activities in mind, the IAF was keen to buy three more AWACS and the negotiations were in advanced stage.
Like the first AWACS, the second one will also be stationed at 50 squadron based at Agra Air Force Station, which happens to be one of the biggest and modern airbases in the country with an extended airfield and an avionics lab.
The IAF is in a major modernisation program to step up its strike capabilities. As part of its long term up gradation blueprint, the IAF is looking to acquire 197 Light Utility Helicopter from the international market and another 187 is to be developed by HAL along with a foreign partner, which is yet to be finalised. In addition to this, the IAF has projected a requirement of another 350 Medium- Lift Helicopters. Apart from this the multibillion dollar deal for 126MMRCA is also in progress. The IAF is also set to receive six C- 130J aircraft from the United States, the deliveries for which will commence in 2011. It is also mulling to buy 10 C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift transport aircraft from the U.S., through The Foreign Military Sales Route (FMS) and Request for Information (RFI) for the same has already been sent