A senior defense official confirmed to Aviation Week Jan. 27 that the first flight of the modified EMB-145 is expected around May. “The first EMB-145 will land in India in August 2011 for system integration and subsequent induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF),” the official says.
India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the AEW&C program in October 2004. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) gave the task to the Bengaluru-based Center for Airborne Systems (CABS). The initial project was approved at a cost of Rs 1,800 crore ($396 million) to develop two operational systems and one engineering prototype within 78 months. But the IAF could only finalize the operational requirements in 2007. CCS looked into the delay and extended the probable date of completion to March 2014, while approving funds to carry out additional tasks.
“The AEW&C with the systems integrated by CABS will fly in India in early 2012,” the official says. “CABS have already begun the integration on ground-based systems [according to the] exact specifications [of] the EMB-145, including the seating arrangements.”
AEW&C is seen as a force multiplier for IAF’s surveillance activities and is expected to boost India’s network-centric warfare capabilities. “In addition to surveillance and tracking of aircraft and UAVS, the system can also detect emissions and communications from radar,” the official says.
The Indian AEW&C system can operate with a maximum crew of 12. “It can fly non-stop for 10-12 hours with midair-refueling,” the official adds. “The all-up weight is 24 tons. The aircraft is being modified to enable mounting of mission systems and be certified for airworthiness, including . . . icing conditions, by Brazilian authorities as per the FAR 25 standard.”