As Indian Air Force has taken delivery of its first indigenous “eye in the sky” Netra — Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWCS) — its developer says an advanced version with a 360-degree sweep — against the present 240 degrees — is on the cards.
“The next system will be upgraded, with more range and 360 degree coverage,” Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman S Christopher told IANS on the sidelines of the Aero India 2017 military exposition, adding that India will be only the second country in the world after Israel to develop an AEWCS with a 360 degree sweep.
The present system, mounted on a Brazilian Embraer-145 jet, can only scan the area on both sides of the aircraft but not those in front or at the back. This achievement made India only the fourth country to develop its own AEWCS.
“The present system scans on both sides; it has around 240 degrees coverage. But that does not mean it is lacking in any way. All over the world, countries have electronic scanners with limited coverage, except Israel,” Christopher said.
“We can fight a war with the AEWCS with 240 degrees coverage. If it is moving along the border it can scan both sides. It is only at sea that 360 degrees scanning is required,” he said.
The DRDO chief said that the next version will be ready within 84 months.
The AEWCS will supplement the larger and more capable EL/W-2090 Phalcom AWACS the IAF has acquired from Israel.
Two more Embraers are being equipped with AEWC systems. One will be handed over to the IAF by June. The DRDO will initially keep the other one for making further improvements, and it will eventually be handed over to the IAF.