The Indian air force will operate an indigenous airborne early warning and control system based on the Embraer ERJ-145 early next decade, with the country's main military research agency saying that foreign and local companies are involved in developing the requisite technology.

Two aircraft will be manufactured under the programme's first phase, with a second phase likely to result in an additional six to eight systems. "The many subsystems of the AEW&C are under development at various work centres in India and with select partners abroad," says the Defence Research and Development Organisation. "The system is projected to be fully developed, tested, certified and inducted into service by 2011."

The aircraft will have a service ceiling of 35,000ft (10,700m), a radar operational altitude of 25,000ft and extra internal fuel tanks that will allow in-flight refuelling, says the DRDO. Its primary sensor will be an active electronically scanned array radar with two planar arrays mounted on top of the fuselage in a dorsal unit, with this capable of both air and sea surveillance.

A secondary radar will have an identification friend or foe function, while communication and electronic support measures will also enable the aircraft to detect and identify hostile emitters. A self-protection suite will consist of missile approach and radar warning receivers, plus countermeasures dispensers.

Interoperability with other AEW&C aircraft and fighters will be provided using datalinks and a mission communications system providing UHF voice and data channels, says the DRDO.

Plans to develop an indigenous airborne early warning capability based on the ERJ-145 emerged at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore three years ago (Flight International, 15-21 February 2005). India has also shown interest in Northrop Grumman's E-2C Hawkeye to augment its modified Ilyushin Il-76 AEW&C aircraft and naval Kamov Ka-31 radar picket helicopters.

Source: Flight International