The first of the three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platforms arrived in India from Israel today, landing at air force station Jamnagar at mid-day. The giant IL-76 was escorted by three Mig-29 and Jaguar aircraft each that took off from an advance fighter airbase of South Western Air Command (SWAC).
The fighter formations caught up with the AWACS mid-air and escorted it as it entered the Indian FIR (Flight Information Region), till safe touchdown at the Jamnagar airbase, sometime in the afternoon today.
Air officer commanding-in-chief, SWAC, air marshal KD Singh, air defence commander, air vice marshal P Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, air commodore C Hari Kumar welcomed the crew of the AWACS aircraft that included the commanding officer of the first AWACS squadron, group captain B Saju.
''It was a great feeling to be escorted by our fighters and it feels really good to be back'', said group captain B Saju upon arrival.
Flown by a full complement of IAF pilots belonging to the newly formed squadron the aircraft was flown in from Ovda international airport in southern Israel. The aircraft undertook an eight-and-a-half hour flight, skirting around several countries, flying over the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea before landing at Jamnagar.
The aircraft is slated to arrive at Palam airport tomorrow where an induction ceremony is scheduled on 28 May.
The AWACS are slated to operate from the Agra airbase under Central Air Command and preparations are afoot for its induction in the extended fleet of the IL-76 family of aircraft.