Delhi has issued a request for information (RFI) for seven signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications jamming aircraft.
As per the RFI, two aircraft in SIGINT configuration will be acquired for the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) - India’s technical intelligence agency. Five SIGINT and communications jamming configured aircraft are to be operated by the air force.
A request for proposal (RFP) is due before the middle of 2018. Deliveries are to commence two years after the contract is signed.
This marks the revival of a 2012 effort to obtain special mission aircraft. At that time the requirement was for nine.
The RFI specifies that the airborne SIGINT system should have greater than a 400km range with 360-degree azimuth coverage.
The aircraft must be able to operate from airfields as high as 3300m (10,800 feet) above sea level in both roles, and while carrying a minimum of 50 percent fuel load.
Each aircraft must have seven workstations, in addition to minimum seating capacity for at least ten passengers and space for four crew-rest bunks. The aircraft destined for the NTRO will have only SIGINT equipment installed, with the displays to be duplicated in the cockpit.
The aircraft must include a countermeasures dispensing system, radar warning receiver, missile approach warning system and directed infrared counter measures (DIRCM).
Delhi has made strenuous efforts to improve the nation’s inadequate airborne surveillance capability in recent years. Three Beriev A-50EI airborne early warning & control (AEW&) aircraft in service, with funding for two additional examples approved in 2016.
The first of three Embraer EMB-145-based AEW&C aircraft was inducted in February. India's Defence Research & Development Organisation is also looking at obtaining six Airbus A330 aircraft as AEW&C platforms.