India has started to develop a Rs 6,000 crore Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme, scientific adviser to the defence minister, Dr V.K. Saraswat, informed the media here on Friday.
“The AWACS will be able to penetrate into enemy territory for longer distances, not physically, but by way of radars and electronic warfare systems. The Government of India has given its clearance for the programme and the DRDO has begun to work on it,” said Dr Saraswat, who is also the director-general of DRDO.
Asked what benefits AWACS offer as compared to the AEW&C system that India currently uses, Dr Saraswat said that a combination of both systems is used all over the world. However, AWACS gives better coverage -- 360 degrees as compared to 270 degrees by AEW&C. The AWACS can fly at higher altitudes, for longer distances and for longer durations, he said.
Two AEW&C aircraft will be ready this year and all the three aircraft that the Indian Air Force has ordered will be delivered by 2014, Dr Saraswat added.
The first made-in-Bengaluru missile, Nirbhay, is ready to be launched next month. Dr Saraswat said that the long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile was in the final stage of integration and has very good stealth features. “Nirbhay will be flight tested next month from Chandipur in Orissa,” said P. S. Krishnan, director, Aeronautical Development Establishment, DRDO.
The DRDO has also conducted a flight test of a totally indigenous guided bomb, Dr Saraswat mentioned. “The bomb can fly for 40-50 km in a guided mode and can be released from an aircraft. It is totally indigenous.”
The press conference also saw the DRDO's first public admission that the indigenous Kaveri engine will not power the light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas. Kaveri was being developed with the aim of powering the LCA.
The first LCA will be delivered by HAL in mid-2013, and four LCAs will be delivered every year from then on.Dr Saraswat mentioned that according to the Economic Analysis Wing of the Government of India, the Self Reliance Index of the DRDO has increased to 55% from the earlier 30% and the DRDO currently has orders worth Rs 1.42 lakh crore.