According to press reports in India this week, the Indian Defence Acquisitions Council will very shortly be providing approval – or, at the very least, “acceptance of necessity” – for a Rs10500 crore (€1.15 billion) project for the indigenous development and production of six new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
The idea is to mount 360° active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars on top of A320s acquired from Air India. With costs likely to be shared between the Air Force and the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO – who will conduct the proposed conversion and integration), the proposed programme revisits a previous proposal to mount the indigenous AESA device on two Airbus A330s, which has been stalled for several years. Sources close to the principals indicate that the new solution is much more attractive from the standpoint of affordability.
India’s current airborne warning is provided by three PHALCON aircraft, modified by Israel based on Il-76 airframes, and two NETRA aircraft, developed in India based on the Embraer EMB-145.