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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to bolster its Airbus A321 fleet as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its airborne capabilities. After receiving clearance to procure six Airbus A321 commercial platforms for conversion into Netra 2.0 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, the IAF is now planning to acquire seven additional Airbus A321 platforms from the used market. These aircraft will be repurposed for signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications jamming (COMJAM) roles, further strengthening the IAF’s operational versatility.

The specific requirements entail acquiring five aircraft that will be suitably integrated and certified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for SIGINT and COMJAM duties. Additionally, two aircraft will be designated for SIGINT roles. Initially, the IAF is considering procuring three aircraft in the first phase of this expansion.

The development of the sensor package required for the SIGINT and COMJAM aircraft will be entrusted to DRDO labs, ensuring that these aircraft are equipped with cutting-edge technology to fulfil their designated roles effectively.

To maintain commonality within its Force Multiplier fleet, the IAF is planning to procure and modify more Airbus A321 platforms locally in the country. This approach not only supports India’s push for self-reliance in defence production but also streamlines maintenance and logistics for the fleet.

The expansion of the Airbus A321 fleet represents a significant step forward for the Indian Air Force, providing it with advanced capabilities in areas such as airborne early warning, signals intelligence and communications jamming. These additions to the fleet will bolster India’s defence readiness and its ability to address evolving security challenges effectively.

As the IAF continues to modernize and upgrade its assets, collaborations with global OEMs and the development of indigenous technology solutions will play a pivotal role in ensuring the nation’s air defence remains robust and adaptable to emerging threats.

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