Giving impetus to the long-standing operational requirement of the armed forces, the first AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) Platform was inducted into the Indian Air Force today. At a special ceremony held at Palam airbase of the IAF, Defense Minister AK Antony dedicated the newly-inducted AWACS in the service of nation.
“It is a rare and momentous occasion in our continuous efforts to upgrade the operational capabilities of the Indian Air Force and our Armed Forces”, said Mr Antony, addressing a gathering that included among others Ambassadors Konstantin Vasikiev and Mark Sofer of Russia and Israel respectively , Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal FH Major, CAS Designate Air Marshal PV Naik, Defense Secretary Vijay Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western and Central Air Command and other senior officials and air warriors of the AWACS squadron.
Emphasizing the need for maintaining eternal vigil in the present security scenario to safeguard our strategic interests and economic assets, Mr Antony said the new AWACS will provide IAF a high degree of situational awareness, enabling it to dominate the air space. With the induction of AWACS, India now joins an elite group of nations that possesses such a sophisticated surveillance system.
The veritable “eye in the sky” fitted on an IL-76 platform will help detect aerial threats at long ranges at all altitudes, in all weather conditions, providing adequate warning and their timely neutralization. The system will also enable our defence forces to graduate to the next stage of network-centric operations, he added.
Mr Antony appreciated the several inter-governmental initiatives between India, Russia and Israel whose specialists worked jointly to build this complex aviation platform. He also expressed his “anxiety” to the Ambassadors of Russia and Israel present about the timely delivery of remaining two platforms. Appreciating the exemplary role of the IAF in times of war and peace the Defense Minister conveyed that the government has ensured allocation of adequate budgetary resources to meet defence requirements.
Recalling the journey embarked by the IAF to fulfill the futuristic needs of air operations, the Air Chief said, “We (IAF) had foreseen that future air operations will be conducted at a very high tempo and this requires real time control of all our combat assets. To dominate the aerial environment in our region, we need to fully exploit the capabilities provided by the very effective networking of AWACS with other sensors and combat assets. Towards this we in the Air Force already have a very robust network – AFNET – integrated with the IACCS (Integrated Air Command and Control System) and ODL (Operational Data Link). And all assets that are presently being acquired by us will also have the capability and provision to plug-in on this network.” The AWACS will form an extremely important component of this command and control structure, he emphasized.
The newly inducted AWACS squadron will be based in Agra.