Embraer has ceremonially unveiled the first of three new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) test aircraft ordered by the Indian government as the Brazilian manufacturer continues to deepen ties with New Dehli.

Separately, Embraer also confirms that a deal is being finalised with the Indian government to acquire nine more intelligence-gathering and target-towing platforms based on the ERJ-145.

The ceremony featured a mock-up of a new phased-array radar currently being developed by India’s Centre for Airborne Surveillance (CABS), which will be integrated after Embraer completes flight tests before the end of this year.

Inida AEWC concept 
 © Stephen Trimble/Flightglobal
Resurrected three years ago from India’s airborne surveillance programme, which was cancelled after the 1999 crash of the second Hawker Siddeley 748 prototype, the Indian air force expects to have all three ERJ-145 AEW&C platforms with the indigenous radar system enter service in 2014.

Indian officials acknowledged during the ceremony that the pressure is on to deliver the new capability on schedule.

“We have a long way to go,” says CABS director Sargunaraj Christopher. “Internationally, everybody is looking to us and we must reach the goal on time.”

The ERJ-145 AEW&C represents the second of a three-phase strategy for India’s airborne surveillance ambitions. Phase 1 involved development and testing of a rotodome antenna aboard two HS 748 prototypes, which both crashed.

In phase 2, CABS is developing a top-hat radar for the ERJ-145 with two side-panel arrays that can each scan between 130-150º, Christopher says.

In the third phase, CABS will develop a triangle-shaped, phased array capable of searching 360º nearly simultaneously, says Vijay Kumar Saraswat, director of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). That system will match the capabilities that India has already acquired with a 360º-scanning Elta Systems phased-array on modified Ilyushin Il-76s.

India ERJ AEWC  
 © Stephen Trimble/Flightglobal
The delivery ceremony also marks a positive new step in the growing relationship between Embraer and the Indian government, Saraswat says.

Indeed, Acir Padilha, vice president of marketing and sales for Embraer’s defence unit, confirms the company is finalising a deal for a new aircraft designated the MA-1, which will install signals and electronic intelligence payloads on seven ERJ-145s and target-towing equipment on two others.

Saraswat also notes that the DRDO and Embraer are “going to join hands” as his organisation pursues a broad range of new aerospace projects, which include a 90-100-seat regional airliner and a medium combat aircraft that aims to introduce an indigenous fifth-generation fighter by around 2020.

“Dialogue [with Embraer on these projects] is ongoing,” Saraswat says.

Source: FlightGlobal.com