The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by PM Narendra Modi has cleared the acquisition of two Phalcon AWACS aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Apart from the AWACS aircraft, CCS has also cleared Indian Army’s request for the induction of a regiment of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and the indigenously developed Pinaka MBRL systems.
The Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft are crucial to maintain the sanity of our airspace. These aircraft are the hawk eyes in the sky and can detect any aerial targets at long ranges. The AWACS system is based on the Russian built Ilyusian IL-76 strategic lift aircraft. The aircraft features an Israeli built Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system.
The first Phalcon AWACS entered into service with the IAF in 2009. The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently operates three such AWACS aircraft under its command and these are based out of Agra airbase. The aircraft apart from being an early warning platform also acts as a command and control platform for the air force.
The eyes and ears of the Phalcon aircraft is the EL/W-2090 AESA radar jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elta of Israel. The EL/W-2090 was developed from the EL/W-2075 radar systems and features a 360-degree electronically operated antenna. The radar system is incorporated with several state-of-the-art anti jamming and anti-detection systems. The addition of these systems ensures that the aircraft cannot be jammed under any circumstances. The radar has a detection range of 400+ kilometers for fighter aircraft sized targets and a tracking range of 1200+ kilometers when tracking ballistic missiles.
The aircraft apart from its role as an airborne warning system can also act as a command and control centre for aerial operations. Flying alongside fighter aircraft, the Phalcon can guide an attack aircraft right into its target. It can also undertake live surveillance of ground targets. The sensors on-board the aircraft enable it to keep track of electronic and communication signals in a particular range. The addition of these aircraft to the air force is boost to IAF’s quest to maintain air superiority in the region.
Indian Army to induct an additional regiment of BrahMos Cruise missile and Pinaka MBRL systems.
The CCS has also cleared the acquisition of a single regiment of BrahMos and Pinaka MBRL systems to the Indian Army. The BrahMos cruise missile is the fastest cruise missile in the world and was jointly developed by India and Russia. The missile can attain speeds up to Mach 3 and this reduces the reaction time of the enemies by almost 3/4th. The Indian Army is currently operating Block – III of the BrahMos cruise missile. Under the command of the Indian Army are three more regiments of BrahMos cruise missile. Flying at supersonic speeds these missile systems are virtually a death warrant for enemies.
The Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) system is an indigenously developed artillery system designed for the Indian Army. Developed by DRDO, these rockets can strike targets as far as 60 kilometers away. Each Pinaka launcher vehicle consists of 12 rockets and each battery consists of 6 such vehicles. The missile system can incinerate targets spread across an area of 1 Sq. kilometer.
All the 72 rockets which is the total number of rockets carried by a battery can be fired in as less than 44 seconds. The Pinaka is a fully autonomous MBRL system and be operated from remote posts. The system tasted its first combat during Kargil Operations. The Pinaka MBRL system is a force multiplier for the army and is a system that can change the course of a battle.