Cabinet Committee on Security Clears Six AEW&C Aircraft

Issue: 09-2021

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting on September 8, 2021 has approved a 10,990 crore ($1.5 billion) indigenous project to build six airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to expand the aerial surveillance capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The AEW&C system has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which will involve mounting indigenous 360-degree coverage Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar on six Airbus 321 passenger aircraft to be acquired from the existing Air India fleet. The first flight trial of the AEW&C aircraft is expected in four years and the entire project being completed in seven years. At present, the IAF has only three Israeli Phalcon AWACS mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft, with 360-degree radar coverage at a 400 km range and two indigenous “Netra” AEW&C systems with 240-degree coverage radars having a range of 250 km range, fitted on smaller Brazilian Embraer-145 jet platform. There was thus an urgent requirement to boost the 360 degree aerial surveillance coverage of the country. Electronics and Radar Development Establishment is responsible for the design of the radar array. The Defence Electronics Application Laboratory is responsible for the Data Link and Communication Systems for AEW&CS.