The Indian Air Force has begun tests flights of the first of three Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft being modified as airborne early warning system in Israel.
The three aircraft, which were taken from Russia to Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries, is being modified in a hangar at Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion international airport.
IAF will get delivery of first AWACS in September this year. The Phalcon AWACS powered by 4PS-90A-76 engines is currently being fitted out with mission sensors and management suites and will be ready for roll out by end of next month for flight certification, a top Israeli Aircraft Industry (IAI) official said.
The other two Phalcon AEW Il-76s will start flying soon and the Air Force is likely to purchase three more, taking the number to six.
The proposals have been forwarded to the defence ministry for a follow-on order, estimated to be worth $2 billion for Phalcon IL-76TD, IAF sources said.
IAF will have six such platforms with delivery expected to be completed between 2009-2012.
The early warning electronic subsystems were designed and manufactured by IAI subsidiary Elta Systems.
IAI also made the 11m (36ft) composite radomes in a one-piece design that is cheaper and lighter than multi-piece designs, and is claimed to reduce electrical interference by eliminating overlapping segments.
These AWACS will bolster India's air-surveillance capability multi-fold giving it an eye-in-the-air to detect enemy planes and missiles while in flight.
India was to receive deliveries of the first of these aircrafts in December 2007, but the transfer was delayed due to time over-runs in customising the airframes by Uzbekistan's Tashkent Aircraft Production Organisation (TAPO).