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Posted at: Sep 5, 2016, 2:29 AM; last updated: Sep 5, 2016, 2:29 AM (IST)

DefMin to procure 45 bird-detecting radars

Spotting the ‘enemy’

  • 200 casesof bird hits, on an average, each year
  • 25 per centof aircraft mishaps are due to bird hits

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4

With bird hits accounting for over 25 per cent of aircraft accidents, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is procuring bird-detection radars that would be installed to detect and track avian activity in the vicinity of airfields.

The MoD has projected a requirement of 45 Bird Detection and Monitoring Radar Systems to reduce the risk of bird strike during air operations. Increasing habitations around airports and airbases and unregulated disposal of garbage attract birds, posing a risk to flight safety.

Bird hits affect military as well as civilian aircraft, particularly at low altitude, though there have been instances of large birds hitting aircraft at high altitudes too.  While a bird hit may not cause an air crash, it damages the airframe or the engines. Fighter aircraft are more susceptible to a crash resulting from a bird hit and a number of pilots have lost their lives in this manner.

The MoD wants bird radars that are deployable at all altitudes in India and able to withstand weather conditions encountered across the country, according to a request for information issued by it earlier this week. Besides being road-mobile, the system should be able to detect large birds at a distance of 11 km and small birds up to 6 km, with a large screen to display the air situation picture.

At present, the IAF uses human teams equipped with binoculars and sound guns to survey bird activity, along with some other rudimentary measures to ward off birds near the runway. Employment of human teams has had limitations due to the visual capability of the human eye, bad weather, low night or darkness. Avian radars use acoustic signatures and lasers to detect birds.

The IAF has an Ornithology Cell in its Directorate of Aerospace Safety, which studies bird activity in relation to air operations and devises ways and procedures to mitigate bird hazard. The MoD has been planning to procure avian radars for a long time. While several foreign firms manufacture such systems, prototypes have also been developed by Indian firms.

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