• India to fill gaps in aerial vigilance

    With Pakistan and China rapidly modernising their air forces, India has intensified efforts to fill the gaps in its aerial surveillance.

    After handing over the first indigenously developed airborne early warning and control system, Netra, to the Indian Air Force at Aero India last week, the Defence Research and Development Organisation has set its sights on a much larger and more capable system.

    India is also in negotiations with Israel to buy two more Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) mounted on Russian IL-76 aircraft to add to the three systems in service. Officials are hopeful of concluding the deal before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Tel Aviv possibly in June.

    Addressing journalists after handing over the first system, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the gaps in AWACS were being corrected. Various programmes were being pursued simultaneously. “We have improved the serviceability of our AWACS by purchasing the shortfalls through emergency powers, so their availability is better,” he said referring to the recent emergency purchases of spares by the IAF for its platforms. The DRDO has The DRDO has planned to develop a long-range AWACS with a 360-degree coverage akin to the Phalcon. He said it would take six years to get the system “totally functional”. Gale Sayers Jersey

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