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`Aircraft supplier for AWACS to be finalised in 3-4 months'

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(From left) Dr K. Kasturirangan, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, with Mr M. Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, and Mr G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation and Space Commission, at a seminar in Hyderabad on Tuesday. - Mohammed Yousuf
(From left) Dr K. Kasturirangan, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, with Mr M. Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, and Mr G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation and Space Commission, at a seminar in Hyderabad on Tuesday. - Mohammed Yousuf

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Jan. 24

THE aircraft supplier for the indigenous Airborne Warning and Control System project (AWACS) will be finalised in the next 3-4 months, the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Dr M. Natarajan, said here on Tuesday.

Top aircraft manufacturers such as Embraer of Brazil and SAAB of Sweden have been shortlisted.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has given its technical inputs on the merits and demerits of these aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF), he told newspersons.

"We have told the IAF that they should finalise the aircraft, since they have to maintain, operate and fly it, once the AWACS is integrated. A meeting with the Chief of Air Staff would be held shortly to finalise details," Dr Natarajan said.

Once the decision is taken, it would take between 42-48 months to integrate the system. The basic work for the AWACS has been done with the coordination of the Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a DRDO laboratory.

Referring to the major achievements during 2005 for DRDO, Dr Natarajan said the successful test flight of the prototype II of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas, with advanced avionics was a big step forward. It has taken the LCA closer to user acceptance with advanced features.

Similarly, the short distance, anti-tank missile - Nag, has come through tests with the intended warhead well. Demonstrations to the user are underway and it would be ready for production.

Asked about Agni-3, Dr Natarajan said: "There is no delay as such, all the systems have been checked out and we are ready for launch, as and when the Government wants us."

Dr Natarajan was here to participate in a one-day seminar on `Technological challenges in hypersonic systems and reusable launch vehicles', organised by the Astronautical Society of India.

The newly appointed Director of Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Dr P. Venugopalan, said the lab was building a small vehicle that would be tested to fly at hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 8.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 25, 2006)
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