The Indian Air Force has deployed the CI-18, an indigenously made Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft (AEW&C) during the COPE India exercise with the United States Air Force.

“The AEW&C system has been recently inducted into the IAF. We have been participating in various exercises. This is the first international exercise we are participating. The aircraft is capable of air-to-air refuelling which gives it enormous flying capability for long duration and large forces engagement,” Group Captain Pradeep Batra who commands AEW&C squadron said in the video posted on IAF’s official social media handles Tuesday.

The AEW&C system, ‘Netra’ developed by Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), is mounted on a Brazilian Embraer-145 jet. DRDO had purchased three EMB-145 aircraft from Embraer in 2008 and customised them for serving are air-borne radar system known as AEW&CS for the Indian Air Force.

Under ” AWACS India ” India plans to build six more next-generation Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) on the Airbus platform to enhance surveillance and detection with longer range. The aircraft are also has a refuelling capability so that it can used for escort aircraft. The AWACS will have a 300-km range and 360-degree angle of coverage as against 200-km range and 240-degree angle of Netra.

This Indian spy-in-the-sky will be protected by a comprehensive self-defence system. The plane can act as a command-and-control centre to support air defence operations like the AWACS aircraft India got from Israel, and can monitor multiple target aircraft and areas, DRDO Chairman S Chirstopher has said in Feb last year.