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SOURCE: IDRW.ORG TEAM

The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently deployed its A321 fleet, currently awaiting transformation into the Netra MkII Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS), for an unexpected task: ferrying Indian Army soldiers. These six Airbus A321s, formerly commercial aircraft operated by Air India, still bear remnants of their past lives with the familiar Air India livery, albeit with the addition of the Indian Air Force’s emblem on the mid-fuselage.

While the exterior may seem unchanged, significant changes are underway within. The IAF is meticulously upgrading the A321s with advanced military-grade avionics and preparing them for their future role as the Netra MkII AEW&CS. This internal transformation, slated for completion in 2025, will equip the aircraft with sophisticated surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

In the meantime, the IAF has found a clever way to utilize the A321s before their official conversion. By leveraging the aircraft’s spacious interior and long-range capabilities, the IAF is deploying them to transport soldiers efficiently and conveniently. This not only optimizes resource utilization but also allows A321 crews to gain valuable experience in operating the aircraft.

The sight of these ex-Air India A321s, sporting a blend of their past and future roles, is a testament to the IAF’s adaptability and innovation. As the Netra MkII project progresses, these aircraft will become invaluable assets, bolstering India’s air defense capabilities and ensuring its continued vigilance in an ever-evolving security landscape.

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