AWACS to arrive in India by March: Air Force chief

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (ANI): Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major has said that the Indian Air Forec will see the arrival of AWACS (airborne early warning and control system) by the end or February or early March.

India will induct the Phalcon airborne early warning and control system into its air force squadron, which will help it to monitor military build-up and aircraft movement nearly hundreds of kilometres inside Pakistan. The Israeli-built system will be mounted on a Russian-built IL-76 transport aircraft.

Commenting on induction of AWACS, which was scheduled for induction in the IAF in October 2008, Air Chief Marshal Major said: "There has been some delay in the arrival of the AWACS. I now expect it to be with us in late February/March this year."

"This not readily available commercially off the shelf (COTS) purchase. It is a project of immense complexity, involving a number of players and is being build to our specifications. India, Russia and Israel are the major participants," he said.

"We are willing to accept this minor delay rather than any shortcomings in the product," G-Files quoted the Indian Air Force Chief, as saying.

The AWACS is used for tactical surveillance of airborne and surface targets and intelligence gathering in a radius of over 400 kilometres. An electronically steered beam provides a 360-degree coverage around the aircraft and it carries air force personnel on board to analyse data and steer fighter aircraft.

India signed a 1.1 billion dollars deal for three Phalcons with Israel in 2004. The first aircraft were to be delivered last year, but the delivery was held up by a few months.

The Indian Air Force is keen on acquiring three more Phalcons, and with negotiations said to be at an advanced stage, the deal is likely to be signed sometime this year. (ANI)

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