Bengaluru: With a view to compressing time schedules on complex projects, DRDO laboratory the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) has engaged EADS' defence division Cassidian to help with system integration and flight testing of India's Embraer 145I-based Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) platform.
The EMB-145I is a medium range AWACS platform that seeks to supplement the Indian Air Force's larger Ilyushin-76 platform A-50 Beriev\Israeli Phalcon AWACS system. Three of these modified and customised EMB-145I aircraft are on order, and reports suggest that the IAF may be holding options for another seven.
Integration of the AEW&C systems on the EMB-145I aircraft is scheduled to commence in July\August. The Indian Air Force is set to commission three EMB-145I AEW&C platforms by 2013, with the arrival of the first modified aircraft scheduled for June.
Cassidian was contracted as a consultant in January this year. Senior DRDO officials said complex systems invariably get bogged down with integration issues and it was felt that protracted flight-testing and evaluation could likely ensue. It is here that Cassidian's extensive experience with NATO's own early warning programme is expected to come in handy.
The Cassidian team is expected to stay the course with CABS till the end of the programme. Cassidian is letting its DRDO counterparts help evolve optimized ways of testing systems. While some systems have to be tested in the air, some can be tested on the ground.
CABS and DRDO would be interested in a telescoped flight testing exercise, keeping in mind its reputation for delaying projects.