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India is seeking assistance from Western defence companies in its ambitious “Made in India” project to develop a fleet of three Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Communications Jamming (COMJAM) aircraft. This move comes as authorities in New Delhi ramp up efforts to bolster the country’s electronic warfare capabilities.

American defence giant L3Harris and French electronics leader Thales have both reportedly offered their expertise to aid India in developing these specialized aircraft. However, the complexity of SIGINT and COMJAM technologies appears to be prompting Indian authorities to leverage Western know-how.

The chosen platform for this project is the Airbus A319, a commercially available passenger jet. The Indian Air Force (IAF) along with the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) will oversee the transformation of this civilian aircraft into a military SIGINT and COMJAM platform. The goal is to equip these planes primarily with indigenous technology and equipment, aligning with the “Made in India” initiative

The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), India’s military intelligence arm, is expected to play a key role in operating these aircraft, likely in collaboration with the IAF.

The SIGINT and COMJAM Aircraft (SCA) project originated in 2019 at the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) in response to IAF requirements. These specialized planes are envisioned to gather crucial intelligence by picking up radio frequency emissions deep within enemy territory. The collected data will be used to identify and classify enemy radar systems, communication networks, and weapon deployments. Additionally, the COMJAM functionality aims to disrupt enemy electronic communication, potentially hindering their operations.

The SCA project aspires to create a platform capable of generating a Real-time Electronic Order of Battle (EORBAT), essentially providing a comprehensive picture of the enemy’s electronic deployments. This would be achieved by combining SIGINT (signal intelligence gathering) and COMJAM (communications jamming) functionalities within a single aircraft.

CABS is positioned as the lead agency for this program, working alongside DRDL and the Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) to develop the SCA for the IAF.

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