Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is ready to deliver the Brazilian Embraer aircraft-based, indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) to the Indian Air Force as soon as it is ready to receive it. At the moment, the IAF is training its personnel who can operate the systems of the aircraft, at Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS). The process should be over by February of next year.
Dr K Tamilmani, the director general of aeronautical systems and Dr S Christopher, programme director (AEW&C) and director, CABS said on Thursday that the laboratory has developed an indigenous Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that has been fitted on the aircraft and is actually functioning for almost a year. The air-to-air function of the radar has been tested and certified, while air-to-sea functions are being tested.
Christopher stated that the ‘technical readiness level’ of the AEW&C is of the order of eight on a scale of ten. In a crowded environment, the aircraft system can ‘correlate, identify, classify and threat response of 500 airborne targets can be tracked, out of which 16 enemy targets can be simultaneously designated.’
There are five work-stations where operators can sit and work, with one being solely for dedicated for ‘communication support measure.’ The aircraft can loiter for five hours independently and with refueling, another four hours can be added to the sortie. It will need some friendly fighter aircraft support, with satellite communication link directly to Vayu Bhavan, IAF headquarters.
The Embraer system has data links, voice communication facility, 32 fighter aircrafts can remain connected while in air, and the ‘air support picture’ created by the operators. It can reach altitudes of 25,000 to 30,000 with a range of 300 kms. Significantly, the AESA radar will have ‘look down’ ability. The radar has 1,257 amplifiers.