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Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) Spain has secured the coveted role as the lead contractor for the conversion of six pre-owned A-321 aircraft procured from Air India into the Netra MkII Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS) for the Indian Air Force. 

The chosen A-321s will undergo a complete metamorphosis, transitioning from commercial passenger jets to sophisticated reconnaissance platforms. This transformation will be overseen by Airbus, leveraging its expertise in aircraft customization and military integration. The Getafe site in Madrid, home to Airbus’ Military Aircraft Design and Engineering department, will play a pivotal role in equipping the aircraft with cutting-edge military avionics and transforming them into aerial sentinels.

While Airbus spearheads the overall conversion, the heart of the Netra MkII system lies in India’s indigenous technological prowess. The aircraft will be equipped with a suite of advanced onboard sensors and systems developed by various DRDO labs and Indian private companies. These include:

  • Primary and Secondary Radars: Providing long-range detection and identification of airborne threats.
  • Mission Communication System and Communication Support Measures (CSM): Ensuring secure communication and jamming resistance.
  • Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Radar Warning Receiver (RWR): Detecting and analyzing enemy radar emissions.
  • Direct Counter Measures (DCM) and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS): Employing defensive measures against hostile electronic attacks.
  • Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Satellite Communication (SATCOM) Data Links: Facilitating real-time data exchange and information sharing.
  • Operator Work Stations and Mission Suite: Providing intuitive interfaces for mission management and situational awareness.

The A-321 aircraft will undergo rigorous modifications and ground testing at the Getafe facility before being flown to India for further customization and integration of the indigenous sensor suite. Following comprehensive flight testing and evaluation by CABS, DRDO, and the Indian Air Force, the Netra MkII AEW&CS platforms will be officially inducted into service, marking a new era in India’s air defence capabilities.

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