Bangalore: India took custody of the first Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft (EMB-145I) at Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil. Built on a modified Embraer, the yet-to-be-named AEW&C aircraft was handed over by the Embraer Defence and Security officials to senior scientists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).Military sources told Express that the AEW&C was expected to leave Brazil on August 18 and reach HAL airport next week. The focus will now shift to Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), which will equip the eye-in-the-sky-platform with mission systems. Embraer says the delivery follows successful completion of ground and flight tests of the aircraft which met operational targets.
Embraer termed the project as a new chapter in Indo-Brazil ties, cementing the way for more future complex programmes. “We are very proud to meet the expectations of our clients in providing CABS and DRDO with this platform,” Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President, Embraer Defense and Security, said. “The EMB-145I features an in-flight refueling system and upgraded electric cooling equipment. The comprehensive set of structural changes in the aircraft will enable easy installation of advanced mission systems developed by CABS,” G Elangovan, Chief Controller, DRDO, said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive three EMB-145Is as per the 2008 pact India inked with Brazil. The total cost of the project is now put at Rs 2,157 crore, after incorporating all additional requirements of the IAF. “CABS would require over six months to prove its mission systems on EMB-145I after which the IAF would officially induct the platform,” sources said. The fully-loaded EMB-145I would begin test-flying in Bangalore in October/November this year.
The ability of EMB-145I to detect, identify and classify threats present in the surveillance areas and act as a command and control centre to support air operations is expected to add teeth to IAF's network-centric warfare capabilities. Former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (retd) F H Major said that the EMB-145I will be a tremendous force-multiplier to the IAF. “It will augment the entire air defence surveillance system of the country and and also aid long-distance monitoring,” Major told Express from Delhi.
As reported by Express earlier, the EMB-145I could track aircraft, UAVs and even detect radar signals. It can scan up to 400 km, giving the IAF recognised air situations thereby enabling battlefield management. The aircraft can operate with a maximum crew of 12 people, including operators, rest crew, pilot, co-pilot and flight test engineer. It can fly non-stop for 10-12 hours with mid-air refueling.
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