Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently visited the headquarters of Defence Research and Development Organisation and directed them to focus on flagship programs of national importance and also promised to give priority to the long-delayed program for an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS INDIA) program after recent skirmishes with neighboring Pakistan.

Under the AWACS INDIA program, India had selected the Airbus A330 platform to mount a fixed radome to provide total coverage of 360°. Scanning just like A-50EI Phalcon systems. While the program to procure the platforms have been approved in the principal but the final contract is yet to be concluded, reportedly due to the steep price of the platforms. According to the industrial sources close to, Rajnath Singh has decided to fast track the program by infusing fresh funds to the program and also clear the purchase of the platforms.

Grossly under-equipped in AWACS capability, the IAF presently operates three Israeli A-50EI Phalcon systems mounted on Russian Ilyushin Il-76 heavy-lift aircraft and is likely to place orders for two more similar systems but with upgraded Israeli radar for which price negotiation with Russia and Israel has been going on for a while now, India’s home-grown Netra AEW&CS aircraft based on an Embraer EMB-145 platform was the Eye in the sky for the 12 formation strike force of Mirage-2000s fighter jets that were used against Terror training camp at Balakot in February and received praise by the IAF.

IAF already has inducted two Netra AEW&CS in the force and also has informed DRDO that it will be also taking delivery of third Netra platform which was originally planned to be kept as a Technology Demonstrator for the AWACS INDIA program. DRDO already has started testing various sensors and main radar of the program on the Rooftop to detect ongoing movement of aerial traffic but without a platform in place , airborne testing has been limited.

Airbus has agreed to provide a platform with a fixed radome which will house a triangular AESA antenna array developed by DRDO that will offer a superior range and detection capabilities than the Israeli A-50EI Phalcon systems. DRDO also has offered Indian air force an interim solution and has proposed  Airbus C295-based AEW&C concept which will be based on Netra AEW&CS radar system but will be much cheaper to operate.

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