The prying plane undergoes system checks at Old Bangalore airport. (Below) Possibly a first glimpse (not sure!) of AEW&CS interiors with mission systems in place.
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: After missing two opportunities to fly public for the first time in a span of last four months, India’s yet-to-be-named prying plane – the Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&CS) – is likely to make its maiden appearance at the Aero India 2013, starting next week. Scientists and engineers at the Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS), a Bangalore- Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab, which has developed home-grown systems for the plane, are currently involved in the ground checks of the aircraft, to ascertain the safe operation of the mission and aircraft systems, together. The Embraer-built (EMB-145 I) AEW&CS platform did not fly during the Indian Air Force Day celebrations at Hindon last October 8, and even during the recent Republic Day parade in Delhi.
Talking to Express on Wednesday, DRDO Chief Controller (Avionics) G Elangovan said that in all probability the prying plane will hit Yelahanka for its first public flying appearance. “It will be a great morale booster for CABS and other aerospace firms who are part of the AEW&CS programme. As of now, the plane will have the company of three Tejas aircraft, which again is subject to changes. It will be flying at the air show with actual radars and mission systems,” Elangovan said.
When asked whether any of the features of the plane will be activated during its display flights at the show, Elangovan said that none of the mission-oriented systems will be operational. “We haven’t got that clearance yet and it would take some more time. At Aero India all the systems will be switched-off, during the flight. Right now the EMI (electromagnetic interface) and EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) tests are going on,” he said.
CABS Director Dr S Christopher confirmed that the AEW&CS will soon be ready for its flight trials. The first aircraft arrived in Bangalore from Brazil in August 2012 followed by the second one in December 2012. “The indigenous mission systems, developed by the various DRDO labs have been installed in the aircraft. The systems have been powered on in ground and their basic functioning ascertained. One set of these systems are undergoing test in the integration rig simultaneously. Once the ground-check mission parameters are established, the next step will be to take up the flight trials of the AEW&CS,” Christopher said.
He said that the eye-in-the-sky platform would soon commence its intense phase of flight-testing and system-proving validating compliance, to meet the operational requirements. “On completion of these trials the two aircraft will be handed over to the IAF. The installation of the mission systems in the second aircraft also is being carried out parallelly. It will be a significant moment for us when the plane files during Aero India,” Christopher added.
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