Agra gets ready to receive IAF’s first eye in the sky
Posted: Thursday , May 21, 2009 at 0227 hrs IST
The first of India’s three Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), a Phalcon Israeli radar system mounted on a Russian IL-76 aircraft, will arrive in Agra this month — reports from Jerusalem suggest possibly this Sunday via Jamnagar— and completely change the way the IAF functions. The other two Phalcons—Phased Array L-Band Conformal Radar— are expected next year.
The Phalcon delivery is being tracked closely by military experts across the world, given the sheer increase in capability it will provide to the Indian armed forces. The “eye in the sky”, which is an airborne radar that can pick up enemy fighters, incoming missiles and even ground troop movements from a distance of over 400 km, will be a crucial force multiplier, one which will also allow the IAF to use lesser number of fighters for a variety of tasks.
Bought in a tri-nation $1.1 billion deal signed in 2004, this will be the first entry of AWACS in the region. While China is perfecting its own version of the system, Pakistan is importing a smaller system from Sweden, delivery of which is not expected before next year.
What makes the AWACS so special is that it enables the air force to monitor enemy movements at ranges of several hundred kilometres and deploy its own assets according to the need of the hour. Such is the capability of the system that India, for example, can now position a Phalcon over Srinagar to pick up objects flying near its consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan.