India is set to secure the long-stalled $1 billion contract to procure two more “Phalcon” Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft from Israel, with the need arising out of the current stand-off with neighboring China.
According to reports, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after extensive inter-ministerial consultations will give a final go-ahead for the acquisition of the two Early-Warning Radar systems, which will be mounted on Russian Ilyushin Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after extensive inter-ministerial consultations.
The deal, which had been derailed a couple of times before due to the high costs involved, will see India add two new Phalcon AWACS, to the three such aircraft inducted by the Indian Air Force, back in 2009-2011.
A press source stated that the AWACS, which will be delivered in the new three to four years, will be “more advanced than the first three Phalcon AWACS with the latest upgrades.”
The acceleration in the acquisition of the AWACS, which are considered powerful “Eyes in the sky”, comes with the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, with their need first acutely felt during the pre-dawn strikers at Balakot and aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighter jets, following that.
Also termed as the Airborne Early-Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, the AWACS are key systems of modern warfare as they can detect and track incoming fighters, cruise missiles, and drones much before ground-based radars, direct friendly fighters during air combat with enemy jets. They also keep tabs on enemy troop build-ups and movement of warships.
India’s current possession of AWACS consists of three Phalcon AWACS, with a 400-km range and 360-degree coverage, and two indigenous “Netra” AEW&C aircraft, with indigenous 240-degree coverage radars with a 250-km range fitted on smaller Brazilian Embraer-145 jets.
The acquisition of the AWACS is well-timed with the Indian Army preparing for a long haul at the Line of Actual Control with China in Eastern Ladakh. The two nations have been at loggerheads ever since the deadly Galwan valley clash which resulted in the killing of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed numbers on the Chinese side.