India to build six more next-gen AWACS in tie-up with Airbus

India will build six more next-generation Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) on the Airbus platform to enhance surveillance and detection with longer range and complete view, the DRDO chief said on Sunday (See: IAF set to get its first indigenous 'Eye in the Sky').

"Once the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) clears and the Cabinet Committee for Security approves the proposal, the six AWACS will be made in seven years after the contract is signed with Airbus Defence & Space," chairman of the state-run Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) S Christopher said during the Aero India 2017 expo in Bengaluru.

Estimated to cost Rs20,000 crore ($3 billion), the AWACS will have 300-km range and 360 degree angle of coverage as against 200-km range and 240 degree angle of Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) the DRDO has built on the Brazilian Embraer-145 modified jet for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

"As the DAC had cleared two AWACS in 2014-15 and Airbus was the sole bidder, we will negotiate the deal with it soon after the cabinet approval for the additional six systems," Christopher told an aerospace seminar.

The two AWACS were approved two years ago for a development cost of Rs5,113 crore ($820 million.)

The IAF is already using the Israeli Phalcon AWACS on the Russian IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft - though it is a fuel guzzler - to detect aerial threats from jets or missiles even from targets 400 km away.

"India is the fourth country in the world to have indigenously built three robust radars and sensors (AEW&C) with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and other fighters," claimed Niti Aayog member for Science & Technology and defence scientist V K Saraswat.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar will hand over the AEW&C-mounted Prying plane to the IAF on Tuesday at the biennial Aero India 2017 expo for induction into the IAF and for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).

"The AWACS will also have a robust monitoring system with a better range and greater endurance than existing radars and surveillance systems the world over," said Christopher.

The DRDO invested Rs2,400 crore in the design, development and production of AEC&W, with AESA as a primary radar, Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF), Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Communications Support Measures (CSM) at its Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS) in this aerospace capital since 2004.

"The radar-fitted surveillance aircraft also has data links to network with combat jets, ground-based control systems and Satellite-based Communication Network (Satcom)," added Christopher.