An Ilyushin-76 with Israeli Phalcon AWACS taking off from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport

Phalcon airborne warning and control systems are eyes in the sky against incoming aerial threats

by Anna Ahronheim

India is close to approving a $800 million deal to purchase the Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS) from Israel, shortly after it inked a deal to purchase additional air-defence systems from the Jewish state.

The Times of India reported that New Delhi is likely to approve multi-million deal with IAI to acquire two additional Phalcon AWACS aircraft from Israel Aerospace Industries.

According to the report, the second deal with IAI to acquire the system, is currently being studied by the Finance Ministry after it was approved by the Defence Ministry. The final approval is said to be granted by the Indian government’s Cabinet Committee on Security.

Mounted on a Russian Ilyushin-76 heavy-lift aircraft, the system has Active Electronic Steering Array (AESA) and L-Band radar with 360° coverage, and can detect and track incoming aircraft, cruise missiles and drones before ground-based radars.

The first three Phalcon AWACS were obtained by the Indian Air Force in 2009 after a $1.1 billion deal between India, Israel and Russia in 2004.

According to The Times of India, the finance ministry had objected to the high costs of the new deal and had been able to significantly reduce the costs through “extensive” negotiations with the Israeli defence giant.

Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware with annual sales worth over $1b.

According to local media, India’s Air Force is planning to acquire 15 Harop attack drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in a bid to enhance its unmanned warfare capabilities. According to the company’s website, the Harop combines the “capabilities of a UAV and a lethal missile.”

India already has a number of the kamikaze Harop drones developed by IAI, purchasing 10 of them in September 2009 in a deal worth some $100m.

Last week, IAI signed agreements worth $93m. to provide India with naval Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) systems. Able to shoot down enemy aircraft at a range of 50-70 kilometres, the missiles will help to protect India from enemy aircraft and will replace the country’s ageing air defence systems.

The MR-SAM system, jointly developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in close collaboration with IAI’s Elta, RAFAEL, and additional companies in both countries, is used by Israel’s navy as well as by India’s naval, air and ground forces.