The first of the three Indian Air Force (IAF) AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platforms has landed in India from Israel. The giant IL-76 configured in its new avatar was escorted by three Mig-29 and three Jaguar aircraft each, that took off from an advance fighter base of the South Western Air Command (SWAC). The fighter formations caught up with the AWACS in mid-air and escorted it as it entered the Indian FIR (Flight Information Region), till safe touchdown at the Jamnagar airbase, at 1135 hours on Monday.
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SWAC, Air Marshal KD Singh, Air Defence Commander Air Vice Marshal P Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, Air Commodore C Hari Kumar welcomed the crew of the AWACS aircraft that included the Commanding Officer of the first AWACS squadron, Group Captain B Saju. Their maiden touchdown on Indian soil also marks the first landing of the AWACS in an IAF airbase.
“ It was a great feeling to be escorted by our fighters and it feels really good to be back”, said Group Captain B Saju upon arrival. Flown by a full complement of IAF pilots belonging to the newly formed squadron from Ovda International airport, located in southern Israel, the aircraft undertook an eight-and-a-half hour’s flight skirting around several countries taking the aerial route over the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea before landing at Jamnagar.
The aircraft is slated to arrive at Palam airport on Tuesday and Defence Minister AK Antony will dedicate this force-multiplier on Thursday, May 28. The AWACS are slated to operate from the Agra airbase under Central Air Command and preparations have been made to induct it into the extended fleet of the IL-76 family.
The first of the three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform landed on Indian soil escorted by the venerable Mig-29 and Jaguar fighters at the IAF’s Jamnagar airbase, today at 1135 hrs (IST).
The AWACS is a tripartite venture amongst India, Russia and Israel. The Indian Air Force laid down the operational requirements in detail based on which the Israeli ‘Phalcon’ radar was mounted on the Russian IL-76 aircraft equipped with the more powerful PS-90A engines making it more advanced than many such systems. This is the first of a total of three AWACS that the IAF is slated to receive. The remaining two are expected to be inducted into the IAF by 2010 and all the AWACS would be based at Agra. India is one of the few countries to have inducted the AWACS in their Air Forces.
The AWACS has many capabilities including Electronic and Signal Intelligence gathering. Once operationalised alongwith the Operational Data Link (ODL), Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) and the Air Force Net (AFNET), the IAF would have taken a definitive step towards Net Centric Operations.