New Delhi: The Indian Navy (IN) now has the opportunity to deploy another air command, control and surveillance system if it opts for another high-tech US –supplied system - the Hawkeye E-2D aircraft. It's a separate matter that the navy will not have the wherewithal to put it onboard a carrier platform, but will have to deploy it as a shore-based system, in the process defeating the very purpose for which the Hawkeye has been designed.
The clearance for the sale has come through after India and the United States signed the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) of military equipment through which the US conducts sales to foreign nations.
The aircraft is manufactured by Northrop Grumman, a leading American defence contractor.
The Hawkeye is a battle-proven, sophisticated, carrier-borne system that acts as the eyes and ears, or a mini-AWACS of a fleet sailing at considerable distance from home waters. The E-2D, the latest avatar, will feature an entirely new avionics suite, improved engines, a new "glass cockpit" and the ability to refuel in-flight. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is expected in 2011.
Apparently, an earlier version of the platform, the E-2C, was on offer to the IN but failed to excite much interest.
Should it opt for the system, the IN will likely become the second foreign customer after the UAE for the platform.