New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will get its second Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), called the eye-in-the-sky, in March providing a dramatic boost to its capability to see beyond enemy lines and to detect incoming airborne threats.
"The second AWACS will arrive in March. Though a little delayed than the scheduled delivery, it would enhance IAF`s capabilities tremendously," a senior IAF official, requesting anonymity, told a news agency.
The IAF has purchased three AWACS from Israel to give it a capability beyond conventional ground-based and tethered electromagnetic radars. The first one arrived in May last year.
Like the first one, the cutting-edge technology Phalcon airborne radar is being integrated with the IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft.
"The second AWACS will also be based at Agra air base (home to the IAF`s Il-76 and Il-78 transports and mid-air refuellers) only," the official added.
Agra airbase is one of the largest in the country and has immense strategic importance. It already has an extended runway and an avionics lab. The ground exploitation system that will sift through and disseminate the data transmitted by the AWACS is already in place.
With its ability to detect aircraft, cruise missiles and other flying objects at ranges far greater than is possible through existing systems, the AWACS can also collate surface information about troop movements and missile launches even while "listening-in" to highly confidential communications between the enemy`s front line units.
To this extent, the second AWACS, as a potent force-multiplier, will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the IAF`s offensive and defensive operations. Given the intensity and pace of modern-day air warfare, the AWACS will provide an impregnable aerial umbrella to neutralise any incoming threat.
India is in the select club of nations - the US, Russia, Britain, Japan, Australia and Turkey - that operate such a sophisticated system. Other countries - notably Pakistan, Brazil and Greece - too operate AWACS but at a much lower end of the scale in terms of capability.
The AWACS project is a tripartite contract between India, Israel and Russia. The USD 1.1 billion deal for the three AWACS was signed in 2004.