M A I N   N E W S

India to produce early warning
radar system in 7 years
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 9
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today gave clearance for the development of an indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) within a span of seven years and at a cost of Rs 1,800 crore.

“The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Air Force will jointly cooperate in the development of the system,” Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after an hour-long meeting of the CSS presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The CCS clearance would mean a big step ahead for India developing its own radar technology. The revival of the AWACS project has been announced five years after the DRDO’s HS-748 technology demonstrator aircraft crashed killing some DRDO scientists and technicians in Tamil Nadu in 1999.

Incidentally, the announcement comes in the wake of recent comments by the former DRDO chief, Dr V.K. Atre, that India has developed expertise to produce an indigenous AWACS.

Though the minister did not spell out the future plans for mounting this indigenous radar system, but since India has recently signed an agreement with Brazil for supply of Embraer aircrafts for the VIP squadron, there is speculation that it could be mounted on one of these aircrafts.

India recently concluded an agreement for the purchase of five Embraer executive jets, four for the VVIP squadron of the IAF and one for the Union Home Ministry.

India had recently also signed a multi-million dollar trilateral deal to mount Israeli Phalcon ‘aireye’ radars on Russian IL-76 transport aircrafts with Indian avionics spinoffs. The first of the three AWACS were likely to be delivered by early 2007.

The meeting was attended among others, by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and top military officers.

A defence official pointed out that the CCS decision also comes as a shot in the arm for the DRDO, which recently made major breakthrough in development of a manned portable battlefield surveillance radar, sophisticated radars for indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and has started the production of 3-D radars in India.

Reports also suggest that India is on the verge of finalising another major deal to install 19 low level transportable radars (LLTR) at vulnerable points along the borders to detect low flying aircrafts and the UAVs.

The multi-million dollar deal is being negotiated with French company, Thales, and it would give the Air Force capability to detect spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles and actually work as a force multiplier.

The sources said these radars would give India capability to look 60 km into enemy airspace and also would be ideal for detecting intrusions over mountainous terrian. 

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