Ladakh face-off: India to order 2 more Israeli ‘eyes in sky’ for $1 billion
NEW DELHI: India is now finally going to seal the long-pending around $1 billion deal to acquire two more “Phalcon” airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft from Israel, which has been derailed at least a couple of times in the past due to the high costs involved.
Sources on Wednesday said the acquisition of the two AWACS, with the Israeli Phalcon early-warning radar system mounted on Russian Ilyushin-76 heavy-lift aircraft, is all set to get the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after extensive inter-ministerial consultations.
The two new Phalcon AWACS, which will add to the three such aircraft inducted by the IAF in 2009-2011 under a $1.1 billion contract, will be delivered in three to four years. “They will be more advanced than the first three Phalcon AWACS with the latest upgrades,” said a source.
The need for additional AWACS, which are powerful “eyes in the sky”, was acutely felt during the pre-dawn strikes at Balakot and the subsequent aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighters in February last year. The ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh has further reinforced the operational requirement.
AWACS or AEW&C (airborne early-warning and control) aircraft are critical in modern warfare because they can detect and track incoming fighters, cruise missiles and drones much before ground-based radars, direct friendly fighters during air combat with enemy jets, and keep tabs on enemy troop build-ups and movement of warships.
But Pakistan is ahead of India in this crucial arena, which struck home much to IAF’s disquiet during the aerial skirmish last year. Pakistan has 8-10 Chinese Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 AWACS and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW&C. China, in turn, has well over 30, including Kong Jing-2000 “Mainring”, KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500 aircraft.
India currently has just three Phalcon AWACS, with a 400-km range and 360-degree coverage,and two indigenous “Netra” AEW&C aircraft, with indigenous 240-degree coverage radars with a 250-km range fitted on smaller Brazilian Embraer-145 jets.
A much more ambitious indigenous AWACS-India project worth Rs 5,113 crore was approved by the defence ministry in March 2015 for 360-degree coverage with indigenous AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars to be mounted on two Airbus A-330 wide-body jets. But this project will only now head to the CCS for clearance.
The impending contract for the two new AWACS comes after the defence ministry decided earlier this month to also fast-track the Rs 3,500 crore “Project Cheetah” to upgrade its Israeli Heron drones with laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground anti-tank missiles and other precision-guided munitions as well as advanced reconnaissance capabilities, as was reported by TOI.
Israel is one of the top arms suppliers to the Indian armed forces. Indian acquisitions over the years range from Barak surface-to-air missile systems, Spyder quick-reaction anti-aircraft missiles and a wide array of drones and radars to Python and Derby air-to-air missiles, Crystal Maze and Spice-2000 precision-guided munitions.
It is in the interest of National Security and making Armed Forces strong, India must maintain close contact with Israel all time.
We wouldn't be in such alarming stage if pervious UPA Government think to strengthen our defence forces.
I strongly support the decision and also urge Govt to bridge loopholes to strengthen our defence forces as our neighbours not ready to accept a strong and developed Bharat.
very good . Govt must keep our armed forces equipped. Congress has ignored armed for es and focused on one family only.
Israel is the most trusted and dependable supplier. As and when we require foreign supply we should go to Israel as China/Pakistan are not knowing much about the product.
why does our defence procedures have so many stages. basically these all are unnecessary roadblocks. Projects which should take 2-3years normally take decades.
India is so not ready to fight a two front war.
It’d be good enough if we could defend ourselves.
Seems like bihar elections r very imp than economy
After four years the cost price will turn into $3 billion as we have seen in rafale.
Keep spending Billions on arms which will look good on the January 26 parade
Government is busy in buying weapons to fight against enemies not for their citizens who are losing jobs due to this Covid..
rather spending every month billion of USD.. on arms be friendly with neighbors and spend amount on welfare of public.
138 crore population and still all things imported ,Shame on us .when will we build these in India, are our scientists so use less.
Fantastic waste more tax payer money to buy these toys and give business to reliance defense... Modiji is the worst we have seen so far..
Another big step forward towards Atmanirbharta, Make in India. Jobs are getting created (so what in far off land). Good decision by GoI.
Congress did not even think about Upgrading India's defense, what a shame!
We want our defence journalists to go into the details of enemy weapon system and where it needed strengthening rather than giving our own list to the enemy.
All the weapon vendors must be profusely thankng China.
Unless you are strong enough no country will respect you.
John K V
Israel is the only country India can depend without any doubts. Russia is okay but USA will change colors