The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday approved Netra AEW&C Block 2 program to be mounted on Six Airbus 319 aircraft to be provided by the state-owned Air India developed by the DRDO under an Rs 11,000 crore project. Six Airbus 319 aircraft would be modified to fly with a radar that will give 300-degree surveillance capability to the defense forces with Airbus Defence and Space as the prime contractor for the conversion of this aircraft.

DRDO will soon be issuing tender as a formality before a deal is sealed with Airbus Military, and already a joint team of Airbus-IAF has identified six aircraft candidates from the fleet of 19 owned by Air India that will soon move to an Airbus A319 facility in Germany where these commercial airliners go through final assembly. has been told main areas of modification are removing of standard avionics, seating arrangements and addition of military communications, and a defensive aids suite.

Netra AEW&C Block 2 will use DRDO’s latest AESA (Active electronically scanned array) radar that utilize Gallium Nitride technology that offers improved detection and tracking performance and better cooling of the main radar unit. Block 2 will also be equipped with DRDO developed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) as a secondary sensor to create high-resolution images that will also be used for imaging stationary ships and small vessels, coastal and overland surveillance.

Weather radar located on the nose cone of the A319 will be replaced by a derivate of UTTAM-based AESA Radar to provide additional frontal radar coverage. Block 2 will also feature Wideband Global satellite communications (SATCOM) system and will also be equipped with secure communication systems to support operations under and beyond the line of sight (LOS / BLOS) conditions.

Airbus Military will be in charge of the conversion and certification of the aircraft so that it can fly international routes if and when required for military deployments. Airbus Military will deliver the first aircraft in the next two years to the DRDO that will then start equipping it with radars and sensors in India before developmental trials of the aircraft will start in the next 4 years.

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