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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG

In a significant stride towards bolstering its airborne surveillance capabilities, the Indian Air Force (IAF) marked a milestone in 2023 with the induction of the third Netra AEW&CS MK1. Originally utilized as a Testbed for the program by DRDO, the third Netra itself boasted additional features, showcasing the commitment to continual improvement in India’s indigenous airborne early warning and control systems.

The Netra AEW&CS program, spearheaded by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has evolved over the years to become a crucial component of the IAF’s surveillance and reconnaissance arsenal.

Sources within the IAF have revealed that the third Netra AEW&CS MK1, inducted in 2023, incorporated additional features compared to its predecessors. The continuous refinement of the Netra platform exemplifies a commitment to staying at the forefront of airborne surveillance technology.

The first Netra AEW&CS was officially handed over to the IAF in 2017, marking a significant leap in India’s indigenous airborne surveillance capabilities. Following the success of the initial deployment, the second Netra was inducted in 2019, further enhancing the IAF’s aerial reconnaissance capabilities. The subsequent induction of the third Netra in 2023 is a testament to the program’s ongoing success and commitment to strengthening India’s defence capabilities.

The indigenously developed Netra AEW&CS played a crucial role during the Balakot strike in 2019, showcasing its operational efficiency and effectiveness in real-world scenarios. The ability to provide early warning and control in such high-stakes situations underscores the strategic importance of the Netra platform in enhancing India’s national security.

The IAF currently boasts a fleet of five airborne surveillance platforms, comprising two DRDO-developed Netra Mk-1 AEW&CS mounted on Brazilian Embraer ERJ-145 platforms and three Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) units equipped with Israeli-Phalcon systems, mounted on Russian IL-76 cargo aircraft. This diverse and advanced fleet ensures comprehensive coverage and operational flexibility in various scenarios.

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