By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: The Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platform, India’s recently-acquired eye-in-the-sky aircraft, had its first flight loaded with desi mission systems on September 29. Defence sources term the flight as shakedown trials, carrying electronic warfare (EW) systems developed by Bangalore-based Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS).
Built on a modified Embraer platform (EMB-145I), the prying plane had arrived in Bangalore (from Brazil) on August 22. “The aircraft has been integrated with mission system avionics racks populated with line replacement units (LRUs). The internal layout of the aircraft has been modified as it is integrated with the operator work stations and operator chairs as per the final AEW&C configuration. The initial shakedown flights are vital for the AEW&C programme,” sources told Express.
External changes too have been carried out on the aircraft to replace the dummy electronics with actual final functional units. “We have got the flight clearance for initial trials with our systems from the Center for Military Airworthiness Certification, after a thorough inspection. The shakedown sorties aim to ascertain the compliance of structural installation of mission systems,” sources said.
The aircraft was flown by pilots from Indian Air Force's (IAF) Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment (ASTE). “A test team comprising of senior scientists from CABS and flight test Engineers, flew in the aircraft to carry out the experiments,” sources said. The developmental flight tests of AEW&C is expected to commence from January 2013, after exhaustive ground tests. The next aircraft is expected from to arrive in India by December 2012.
An ASTE official said that the AEW&C will be the star attraction during this year's Air Force Day parade on October 8, at the Hindon air base. “We are planning to ferry the aircraft to Delhi on October 3 with all installed mission systems. The aircraft will be on a public display for the first time,” the official said.
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