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In a significant stride towards enhancing the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) intelligence capabilities, the Center for Airborne Systems (CABS) is actively developing a state-of-the-art Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) system. Dr K Rajalakshmi Menon, the Director of CABS, recently provided insights into the ongoing efforts, emphasizing the critical role of the ISTAR platform in modern warfare.

The ISTAR system being developed by CABS is designed to serve as a comprehensive solution for Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition, and Reconnaissance. Its primary function is to intercept enemy signals and provide crucial information to ground commanders. This real-time intelligence empowers commanders to make informed decisions about counterstrikes, offering precise targeting data and facilitating the optimal deployment of weapons.

While CABS has been actively pursuing the development of the ISTAR system, it has not yet finalized the platform on which this advanced technology will be deployed. Dr. Menon confirmed that the Bombardier Global 6000 platform is under consideration but has not been confirmed for the program. The decision on the platform is a result of careful consultation with the Indian Air Force (IAF), as they collectively seek a platform capable of accommodating the ISTAR system’s sensors at high service ceilings.

The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has showcased scale models of the ISTAR system equipped on the Bombardier Global 6000 platform, providing a glimpse into the envisioned capabilities of this cutting-edge technology. These demonstrations underscore the commitment to technological innovation and the potential impact of the ISTAR system on the IAF’s operational capabilities.

In a move reflecting the Air Force’s commitment to bolstering its intelligence-gathering capabilities, a proposal has been initiated to acquire three airborne intelligence-gathering aircraft. This ambitious project, estimated at ?6,000 crores, aims to develop indigenous sensor technologies and systems for the new ISTAR platform. While the sensors and monitoring equipment will be domestically sourced, the aircraft itself is expected to be a commercial or executive jet acquired from abroad.

The ISTAR platform’s significance lies in its ability to map out battlefields and monitor enemy movements in real-time. This real-time situational awareness is crucial for strategic planning, allowing the Air Force to respond promptly to emerging threats and changing scenarios. The proposed acquisition of three ISTAR aircraft reflects a forward-looking approach by the Indian Air Force in adopting cutting-edge technology to strengthen national defence.

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