By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system, India’s most-awaited eye-in-the-sky aircraft, touched down at HAL airport on Wednesday night. On its arrival, the prying plane built on a modified Embraer platform (EMB-145I), was given a water canon welcome. Over 200 people, including scientists, engineers and technicians were present at the airport when the plane landed close to midnight.
Military sources tell Express that the aircraft flew through three continents over last the five days. On its arrival in Bangalore, it was officially received by the AEW&C development and user teams led Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS) director S Christopher.
The aircraft was piloted by a flight crew consisting of two pilots, each from Embraer and the Indian Air force (IAF), along with one technician from Embraer. As reported by Express earlier, the aircraft left Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil, on August 17. “Before leaving Brazil, the acceptance of the aircraft was completed over a period of 15 days at the Embraer facilities by a team of officials from India,” sources said.
Before landing in Bangalore, the EMB-145I had its last refueling at Ahmedabad on Wednesday. “We tracked every moment of its flight including at Casablanca, Alexandria and Dubai. It is a big day for military aviation scientists,” sources said.
The aircraft was ferried from Brazil with several mission system external components being built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, including the Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) antenna with passive electronics fitted on to the platform.
The focus now shifts to the integration of the DRDO-developed mission systems on to the platform, which will be followed by development flight trials in India beginning of 2013. The next aircraft is expected to arrive in December 2012.
Post-midnight, the yet-to-be-named aircraft was undergoing a series of emigration and customs clearances at HAL airport. “We have taken the plane into our hangar and the entire area is now cordoned off,” sources said. The security around HAL airport and CABS facility was high all through Wednesday, ahead of the EMB-145I’s historical landing in Bangalore.
(Copyright@The New Indian Express)