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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is poised to witness a significant leap in its electronic warfare capabilities with the impending arrival of the Signal Intelligence and COMJAM Aircraft (SCA) project. This ambitious program, spearheaded by the DRDO’s Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), has received IAF clearance in 2019 and is expected to secure Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approval soon, according to prominent defence journalist Anantha Krishnan M.

The SCA is much more than just a fancy antenna on a plane. It’s a manned multi-mission platform, capable of undertaking long-range and high-endurance signal intelligence missions. At its core lies the combined power of SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and COMJAM (Communications Jamming), providing the IAF with a comprehensive electronic warfare package.

Eyes and Ears in the Sky:

  • Real-time Electronic Order of Battle (EORBAT): The SCA will act as a real-time intelligence gathering platform, identifying and classifying enemy radar, communication, and weapon systems. This EORBAT capability will give the IAF a crucial edge in understanding the enemy’s battlefield layout and intentions.
  • AI-Powered Emitter Tracking: Using artificial intelligence, the SCA will automatically identify and track emitters, pinpointing their location with remarkable accuracy. This rapid and precise targeting will be invaluable for subsequent offensive operations.
  • Passive and Proactive: The SCA’s passive surveillance capabilities allow it to discreetly gather intelligence without revealing its position. Additionally, its COMJAM systems can actively disrupt enemy communications, hindering their coordination and command-and-control capabilities.

The CABS is spearheading the SCA program, collaborating with the Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) and the Defence Engineering Application Laboratory (DEAL) to develop this cutting-edge technology. This combined expertise ensures a robust and comprehensive platform for the IAF.

The SCA’s success hinges on finding the ideal aircraft platform capable of housing its complex suite of sensors and antennas. While the IAF reportedly favours the Airbus A321, as evidenced by the scale model displayed at Defence Expo 2022, the final decision will depend on a Request for Information (RFI) to be issued soon.

The SCA’s arrival will significantly enhance the IAF’s electronic warfare capabilities, providing a decisive edge in modern warfare. Its ability to gather real-time intelligence, disrupt enemy communications, and protect friendly forces from detection makes it a true force multiplier.

The SCA program marks a significant milestone in India’s quest for self-reliance in critical defence technologies. With its advanced capabilities and potential to revolutionize electronic warfare, the SCA promises to be a game-changer for the IAF and a testament to India’s growing prowess in this domain.

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