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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up to acquire new spy planes for enhanced intelligence gathering and communication disruption capabilities. The plan involves procuring Airbus-319 class aircraft, likely pre-owned, to be converted into state-of-the-art military platforms.

This project, spearheaded by the Centre for Airborne Studies (CABS), aims to develop three new signal intelligence and communication jamming system aircraft. These next-generation spy planes will be crucial for bolstering India’s aerial surveillance and communication dominance.

The IAF is looking beyond brand new aircraft for this project. Their plan is to source used Airbus-319 class aircraft from the open market. These pre-owned planes will then undergo a comprehensive refurbishment process to meet military specifications. Additionally, they will be equipped with cutting-edge sensors and systems specifically designed for signal intelligence and communication jamming.

This approach isn’t entirely new for the Indian defense sector. The Netra Mark II program, for instance, utilizes six Airbus A321s previously procured from Air India. Similarly, the DRDO employs a single Airbus A319 as a flying testbed. The IAF’s experience with integrating military technology into Airbus platforms suggests a smooth transition for these new spy planes.

To move forward, the IAF needs to secure the necessary approvals to float a tender for acquiring these pre-owned Airbus-319s. This process will likely involve a detailed evaluation of potential aircraft and refurbishment companies to ensure the project meets all performance and budgetary requirements.