In a move to further strengthen the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) surveillance capabilities, the Centre is looking to sign the long pending deal to acquire two additional 'Phalcon' airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft from Israel.
The deal, valued at around $1 billion, has been derailed at least a couple of times in the past due to the high costs involved, reported The Times of India.
According to the report, citing sources, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is all set to give its final nod to the acquisition of two AWACS, which are powerful 'eyes in the sky', after extensive inter-ministerial consultations.
The AWACS will come with the Israeli PHALCON early-warning radar system mounted on Russian Ilyushin-76 heavy-lift aircraft, the report said.
India already has three Phalcon AWACS, which were inducted by the IAF in 2009-11 under a $1.1 billion contract. The two new Phalcon AWACS, which are expected to be delivered in three-to-four years, will be added to the fleet, as per the report.
They will be more advanced than the first three Phalcon AWACS with the latest upgrades, the report quoted a source as saying.
As per the report, the need of to procure more such surveillance aircraft was first felt during the pre-dawn strikes at Balakot and the subsequent aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighters in February 2019. The ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh has further spurred the operational requirement, it said.
Both the Pakistan and China are ahead of India in terms of surveillance aircrafts. Pakistan has 8-10 Chinese Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 AWACS and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW&C while China has over 30, including Kong Jing-2000 “Mainring”, KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500 aircraft.