New Delhi, May 28: The Indian Air Force's eye in the sky, AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform fitted on IL-76 aircraft, was formally inducted by Defence Minister A K Antony today.
The IAF has raised a new squadron of AWACS, which will be called 'Squadron 50'. Two more AWACS will be inducted in the squadron by the end of the next year.
The planes will especially be used to reinforce maritime security in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. India is one of the few countries to have inducted the AWACS in their air forces.
Antony described the induction of AWACS as a milestone, and added that it would help to improve the country's security apparatus.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major said: "AWACS will enable the Air Force to project itself as a formidable force. Integration of this sophisticated platform with our Air Defence Network will add a new dimension to the IAF's capability to guard the Indian skies."
"AWACS will be a dynamic asset in the air, which can be mobilised in a quick time to counter an emerging threat and tilt the balance in India's favour. It will provide defence in depth and enable the friendly forces to neutralise the adversary before it can pose a serious danger," he added.
The first of three Indian Air Force AWACS arrived in Jamnagar, Gujarat on May 25. It took off from Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday, first for Ovda in the southern Israeli coastal town of Eilat. At night, it flew from Eilat to Jamnagar, reaching India on Monday.
The Israeli-built system is mounted on a Russian-built IL-76 transport aircraft as a part of the tripartite agreement between India, Israel and Russia.
The AWACS are slated to operate from the Agra airbase under the Central Air Command. India's most potent force multiplier, AWACS, is capable of tracking down incoming missiles. The all weather system is capable of engaging 60 targets simultaneously and has a range of 400 km.
It has a radar that can help detect cruise missiles or aircrafts at ranges much beyond the capabilities of present systems. It can also collate information about troop movements and missile launches on ground and even intercept highly secured communication networks of the enemy.
The IAF AWACS would help pilots find hitherto unconceivable space and room for tactical manoeuvres in the air under controlled directions that would give them an edge over their adversaries at all times.
AWACS, a potent force-multiplier, would significantly enhance the effectiveness of both offensive and defensive operations. The swift mobility that it provides would help neutralise any threat, as it could be moved anywhere at a very short notice.