Defense Technology International - April 2008 - (Page 17)
SKY WATCH Indian air force is expanding surveillance operations MAXIM PYADUSHKIN• MOSCOW he operational capabilities of India’s air force will be signiﬁcantly upgraded late this year when the service receives the first of three A-50EI airborne early warning aircraft. The aircraft, based on the Ilyushin Il-76 airframe, are being built by Beriev Aircraft Co. of Russia. The airborne early warning (AEW) systems will be installed T deal due to issues relating to technology transfer and Israel had to back out and pay a penalty to Beijing. Nevertheless, Russian-Israeli cooperation on AEW systems continued with the deal in India. New Delhi appears to favor the “Chinese solution” of installing the Israeli radar on a Russian platform because of its experience with Russian planes and AEW systems. After devel- despite the fact that IAI/Elta installs the main AEW components, all communication and command systems will be Russian. Another di erence from the Mainstay system is the replacement of D30KU engines with Perm Engines’ more powerful PS-90 turbofans. “The re-motorization allows us to decrease the takeo weight and improve ﬂight performance of the aircraft,” says Kobzev. “[Now] it can operate [efficiently] under India’s conditions,” a reference to the hot, humid air in some parts of the country. The first modified A-50EI aircraft made its maiden flight in Taganrog, Beriev’s home city, in late November 2007. According to a source in the Russian aerospace industry, Beriev is already working on the other two Il-76 airframes. Elta is expected to transfer the ﬁrst fully-equipped aircraft to the Indian military at the end of the year. BERIEV AIRCRAFT CO. Indian A-50EI aircraft takes off for Israel, where IAI/Elta will install its Phalcon radar. by Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta subsidiary. The AEW system incorporates IAI/ Elta’s Phalcon radar, which uses active electronically scanned arrays. Beriev has already ﬂight-tested the ﬁrst aircraft ordered by India and delivered it to IAI/Elta. The contract calls for the delivery of all three airborne early warning aircraft to be completed no later than 2009. The contract for the AEW aircraft, valued at $1.1 billion, was signed by IAI and the Indian defense ministry in 2004. Russia’s part of the business, which is worth $300 million, includes providing the aircraft and modiﬁcations necessary for installing the radar. Elta speciﬁed the Il-76 airframe for its AEW system in the mid-1990s when it attempted to sell the Phalcon radar to China, which wanted it installed on the Russian aircraft. But the U.S. vetoed the AviationWeek.com/dti opment of an indigenous airborne early warning system was suspended in 2000, India’s military leased a Russian A-50 Mainstay AEW aircraft that was also based on the Il-76 airframe. Phalcon technology, however, is more advanced than the Mainstay radar system due to its phased-array scanning antennas. According to Elta, all of its sensors are fully integrated; when one detects a target, the system automatically initiates an active search of the complementary sensors. The Israeli-Russian team uses a classic AEW design on the Il-76 aircraft— the radar is installed in a non-rotating radome on top of the aircraft. Although Beriev CEO and Chief Designer Victor Kobzev declines to provide details on the Indian air force deal, citing the contract’s conﬁdentiality clause, he was quoted by Russia’s Interfax-AVN news agency saying that The Phalcon system will undoubtedly increase the combat strength of the Indian armed forces, marking one more step in the country’s transition to regional superpower status. It will also allow more e ective use of the air force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI ﬁghters (also bought from Russia), as well as expand the possibilities of aerial surveillance and early warning of missile attack. The Russians are looking for India to order more AEW systems. “According to our calculations, India needs 6-9 aircraft for long-range detection, early warning and targeting. But taking into account the mountain terrain, it would be good to have 12 aircraft,” says Kobzev. I To read more posts about AEW, go to DTI’s homepage, AviationWeek.com/dti and click on “Extras for this issue” under “DTI Interactive.” 17 APRIL 2008 DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL
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