(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - May 21, 2009: India is negotiating the purchase of three more Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a Defence Ministry official here said. From 1987, India has worked on an experimental AEW system codenamed "Airavat"; the project itself is called Airborne Surveillance Platform. HAL customized two HS-748 airframes with pylons and rotodome, but the project itself ground to a halt in 1999, following a Prototype crash, killing 8 scientists aboard. As of 2004, the project has been revived with new platform and an AESA Radar instead of a rotating one. India ordered 3 Phalcon AWACS from Israel with a cost of about $1.5 billion with the delivery to end in 2008. This was delayed and the first aircraft arrived in early 2009. The IAF cleared proposal to buy 3 more Phalcon AWACS in 2008. As part of its Eye in the sky project, India is developing an AESA radar which will be integrated on the Embraer EMB-145 aircraft. The AWACS will be inducted by 2011. The news arrived just days before the expected delivery of the first of three AWACS ordered in 2004 for $1.1 billion, the official said. The Indian Air Force AWACS planes will be Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76s equipped with Phalcon radars made by Elta, an IAI subsidiary. New Delhi wants to buy three more Phalcon radars for mounting on aircraft, but IAI is asking for 30 percent more money than the first batch, the official said. IAI officials were not available for comment. The Indian Air Force plans to beam data from the AWACS through a dedicated satellite under the nascent joint Aerospace Command. The Phalcon radar can track 60 targets simultaneously out to 350 kilometers, an Air Force official said. The AWACS' electronics must include a Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array radar system that can simultaneously handle fighter control, and air, sea and area search; 300-nautical-mile Identification-Friend-or-Foe system; electronic warfare defenses; and electronic support subsystems, a senior Air Force official said. The aircraft should have a payload of 9,831 kilograms, an empty weight of 46,606 kilograms and a maximum takeoff weight of 77,564 kilograms. The aircraft should also have a cruise speed of 853 kilometers per hour, a range of 7,000 kilometers and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. While awaiting the AWACS planes, the Air Force has been relying on UAVs, including the Searcher-I, Searcher-II and Heron.
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