India today made a major breakthrough in mounting an electronic eye in the sky, taking delivery here of the first Embraer 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, built with Indian technology.

The first of the three AEW&C aircraft comes equipped with India’s first-ever airborne Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar, giving it the capability to detect missiles and hostile fighters at all angles.

The aircraft was delivered at an official ceremony held at Embraer’s headquarters in Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil in the presence of top Indian and Brazilian defence officials, a company statement said.

The new aircraft would give the Indian Air Force capability of operating both the longer range Israeli-made IL-76 Phalcon AWACS as well as the shorter range Brazilian EMB 145. India already has acquired three Israeli AWACS and is in the process of getting two more.

The new EMB 145 would have “the airborne Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar designed by DRDO’s Banglaore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS)” mounted on top of the modified aircraft, said Programme Director Christopher at the ceremony.

“DRDO will integrate other mission systems in India and deliver the aircraft to the Indian Air Force,” he said.

The new aircraft features major capabilities such as in-fight refuelling system, significant increase in electric and cooling capacity and a comprehensive set of structural changes to which will allow the installation of the advanced mission systems that have been developed by India’s CABS along with its work centres of DRDO, said Dr Elangovan, Chief Controller Research & Development of DRDO.

India and Brazil signed a deal reportedly worth $ 210 million for the supply of three aircraft by 2014. This includes a comprehensive logistic package that entails training, technical support, supply of spare parts and ground support equipment.

“The collaboration with DRDO in such a complex programme strengthens the ties between Brazil and India,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President and CEO of Embraer Defence and Security.

Embraer is the world’s third largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, behind American Boeing and Europe’s Airbus.

The Indian Air Force already operates four Embraer Legacy 600 jets to transport government officials and foreign dignitaries. A fifth one is operated by India’s Border Security Force.

(This article was published on August 17, 2012)
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