It took a decade and a half to come up with an effective AEWC with a range of more than 300 km, operating from 30,000 ft altitude: Dr. Suma Varughese

It was indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEWC), a flagship programme of the DRDO, which was used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the Balakot airstrikes across the border as it could provide effective radar surveillance on air and ground across long distances not possible by the ground based radar, informed DRDO Director General Micro-electronic devices, computational systems and cyber systems Suma Varughese on Monday.

Addressing the Academy for Science, Technology and Communication (ASTC)- Dr. K V Raghavan memorial lecture at the ‘Women Scientists Conclave: Self Reliance’ organised by the National Academy of Sciences, India and ASTC at the CSIR-IICT auditorium, the top scientist said that it took a decade and a half to come up with an effective AEWC with a range of more than 300 km, operating from 30,000 ft altitude as the developed nations were not ready to part with the technology.

The Indian AEWC was built on the Brazilian Embraer transport plane platform like a few other countries but the process of integrating the systems with six km of cabling for looking like an eye in front to detect, identify and help in the battle operational part was a challenging process. She noted that four defence scientists and four IAF personnel had lost their lives in one of trial runs in 1999.

Dr. Varughese, who had worked at the Centre for Airborne System (CABS), said defence scientists had to develop an indigenous electronic antenna, circuit systems and components for the AEWC. Her illustrious colleague DRDO Director General (Aeronautical Systems) Tesse Thomas, who gave the inaugural address in the place of CSIR-Director General Kalaiselvi, who could not make it to the function, gave an overview of the missile development program.

From not having the technology, raw materials and expertise, the country has grown to make indigenous missile systems like Agni and others overcoming various issues across the last two decades of guidance systems, pouring into various complex mathematical equations relating to the Earth’s rotation and revolution, algorithms, rocket motors, carbon composites, etc. “It was total team work which involved many women scientists,” she said, to a thunderous applause by the gathering.

Later, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Science's director Tanusri Saha-Dasgupta spoke on ‘materials by computation, challenges and opportunities’, University of Hyderabad’s Geeta Vemuganti spoke on ‘stem cells in eye research and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics Sangitha on Tuberculosis and immunological therapy.