New Delhi: Contrary to news that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had taken delivery of its first AWACS aircraft it now transpires that the force will have to wait till next month to take delivery of the Israeli Phalcon airborne early warning system (AWACS). According to a senior IAF officer, the aircrfat will arrive in India only by March-end.
The induction of these platforms has already been delayed by 16 months.
"The Israeli Phalcon airborne early warning and control system, which will provide the IAF an eye in the skies to perform surveillance and reconnaissance roles, will arrive in India only by March end," a senior IAF officer said in New Delhi on Friday.
The AWACS, mounted on Russian-made IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft, was originally scheduled to be delivered by the Israel Aerospace Industries by November 2007, but failed to meet the deadline.
The AWACS, a major force multiplier for the Air Force, is also an important link in the IAF's plans to go network centric by establishing an advanced Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) through the Air Force Net (AFNET) communication network.
Under the AFNET project, the IAF has already linked about 70 per cent of its land-based assets and platforms to the IACCS, the officer said.
"With IAF rapidly progressing with its network centricity plans, AWACS will be an important element...the air link...in the IACCS," the officer said.
The AWACS will link the IAF's ground and air-based weapon platforms and communication system, which would be vital for IAF's network-centric operations.
With IAF aiming to become a network-centric force by 2010-11, it has been trying to inter-link its land, air and space assets and platforms to provide real-time information for increasing its situational awareness during conflicts.
India had signed an $1.1 billion deal with Israel for three AWACS fitted on IL-76 platforms in March 2004.
The IAF's Agra air base is being upgraded to receive the first AWACS plane. The infrastructure has been improved by extending the runway, establishing an avionics lab, and integrating ground systems for future operations.