Bengaluru, Feb 11: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive the first Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system - Prying Plane -- by June this year.
Dr K Tamilmani, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Director-General (Aero), said that the second aircraft will be handed over to the IAF in September for user evaluation trials. He said the third aircraft will be arriving in Indian by July this year.
The AEW&C systems are built on a modified Embraer EMB-145I aircraft from Brazil. The two aircraft had extensively undergone flight trials in air bases in Bengaluru, Jamnagar and Agra.
The ‘Prying Plane' project is a prestigious project for the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), which has been mandated for the integration work. Currently, pilots from the IAF's Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment, attached to the project, are flying the platform.
"Once the first aircraft is handed over in June, we will conduct fine-tuning of systems on the second one. The user feedback will be something that will add more teeth to the platform. The EMB-145I will be flying on all five days at Aero India 2015," Dr S Christopher, Director, CABS told OneIndia.
Tejas MK-II first flight in 2018
The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has already started the work on Tejas Mk-II, with more focus on getting the private industries on board. P S Subramaniam, ADA Director told OneIndia that the aircraft modules for Tejas Mk-II will come from different private industries.
He said the Tejas Mk-II will be installed with high power GE 414 engine, an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, onboard oxygen generation, upgraded Flight Control System and contemporary Avionics. "The mechanical and electrical architecture will remain the same," P S Subramaniam said.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will play the lead integrators role. "The IAF has gone through the preliminary design review. The idea is to get more partners involved. Even for the naval variant we have started to work with a foreign agency now. The preliminary design will be ready by the final quarter of next financial year," Dr Tamilmani said.
DRDO officials claimed that the first flight of Tejas MK-II will happen during the first half of 2018.
More talks on rotary UAV project at Aero India
The DRDO officials said that during the upcoming Aero India 2015, they hope to make some inroads in their rotary UAV programme. As reported by this Correspondent earlier, a Chetak has been indentified for the preliminary work.
The DRDO is currently grappling in the dark in developing the technology that permits the UAV to land on the ship deck. DRDO officials said that in addition to Indian Navy and HAL, preliminary round of talks have been held with Boeing.
"We hope to take the talks forward at Aero India. Even Lockheed Martin has shown interest to partner in the programme," Dr Tamilmani said.
In an interview granted to this Correspondent recently, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan was critical about the slow progress being by DRDO on the rotary UAV project. "We have taken note of the delay in the project. We have given lots of impetus to the project in the last two years. We have laid down stringent timelines and conveyed the same to DRDO for an early solution," Admiral Dhowan had told OneIndia.
Post Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion that some of the labs/projects need to handed over to youngsters, DRDO had earmarked the rotary UAV project. The project will come under Aeronautical Development Establishment, which has developed UAVs for armed forces.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)