THE INDIAN AIR FORCE’S
The saga of development of indigenous AEW&C system as a mission mode programme commenced with appropriating Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), Bengaluru, as the nodal agency for developing three AEW&C systems with two to be delivered to IAF and done to be retained with DRDO for further research, development, upgradation, etc.
The development was taken up based on operational requirements evolved jointly by a team of DRDO and IAF team. The platform for the development was specified by the IAF as EMB-145 executive jet manufactured by M/s Embraer of Brazil. After the sanction of
the programme, IAF revised the operational requirements in tune with their emerging war fighting scenario. The revised operational requirement necessitated building
of an AEW&C system on a small aircraft with all the systems and functionalities similar to that of the bigger AWACS being procured by IAF. DRDO took up the challenge and has made the systems a reality. The AEW&C aircraft is a derivative of Embraer ERJ-145 extensively modified and customized to house the indigenous mission systems developed in India. The complete integration of the mission system and its flight evaluation has been carried out in India. One of the main features of the aircraft is that it is the Embraer executive jet aircraft to have air to air refuelling. The indigenous AEW&C system on EMB-145 aircraft consists of 10 major mission systems, most of them developed indigenously, namely
- Airborne active electronically scanned antenna based primary radar system, a first of its kind and fully developed within the country.
- Fully indigenous, electronically scanned antenna based MK-XII(S) and mode 4 capable Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) System.
- Communication support measure (CSM) system
- Electronic support measure system (ESM)
- Self-protection Suite (SPS) consisting of UV-based Missile Approach Warning Sensor (MAWS) and Radar Warning Receiver (RWR).
- Satellite-based Non Line-of-Sight Communication and Data Link.
In addition to the airborne complement, five major ground systems supporting all aspects of planning, training, maintenance, and integration with IAF Command and Control Centre also have been developed fully indigenously. These are:
- Mission Planning and Analysis Station (MIPAS), which enables multiple operators to
plan their mission on AEW&C simultaneously. Additionally a laptop-based mobile MIPAS also have been configured and provided.
- Ground Exploitation Station, receives the information from the aircraft and communicates the Partners in Development information to the IAF Command and Control Centre.
- Operator Training Station, which enables up to 8 operators to be trained simultaneously on all aspects of operation of the AEW&C.
- Automated Test Equipment, which enables first level of maintenance through automated test process.
- Mission Software Support Facility, a software repository to maintain the software versions through life of AEW&C.
The AEW&C system has undergone extensive flight evaluation flying close to 1500 hrs (700+ sorties). These include flying at Bengaluru, evaluation campaigns at various IAF
bases such as Jamnagar, Bhatinda, Jodhpur, Gwalior, Agra, Chabua to state a few. Evaluation of the system also includes evaluation through conduct of Large Fleet Engagement exercise (more than 25 of them) to evaluate the complete performance capabilities of the AEW&C command, control, battle management, etc. The AEW&C system is being integrated with the IAF’s Command and Control System.
INSIDE THE AEW&C