New Delhi: The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) may have been awarded a pilot contract to develop an operational data link (ODL) for the Indian Air Force's fighter fleet. The IAI had bid for the contract along with another Israeli firm Rafael and American defence contractor Lockheed Martin.
A global tender for the pilot project had apparently been issued in 2006. Though all three vendors were technically qualified IAI had bid the lowest amount. If reports are to be believed then Rafael apparently offered to carry out the contract for free, which apparently became a ground for its rejection!
The ODL is a pilot project for the IAF's network-centric warfare programme which will provide the force with the capability to field advanced data and voice networking over the next 10 years. The system will enable disparate units to share critical information, including data from the battlefield, and make for speedier decision making.
Under the main project, fighter and transport aircraft, helicopters and surveillance platforms, including the Israeli Phalcon Advanced Warning and Control Systems, UAVs and space and ground radars will all be networked. All these assets will then be looped into the main network-centric warfare project, the Aerospace Planning and Execution system.
Under the pilot programme the air force will network selected aircraft and ground stations in order to obtain experience in developing standard operating procedures, integrating platform mission computers and training operational and maintenance personnel.
The ODL network-centric warfare programme will be carried out in phases, and the entire program is scheduled to be operational by 2012.