The first of the three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform arrived in India from Israel today. The giant IL-76 configured in its new avatar was escorted by three Mig-29 and Jaguar aircraft each that took off from an advance fighter airbase of South Western Air Command (SWAC).
The fighter formations caught up with the AWACS mid-air and escorted it as it entered the Indian FIR (Flight Information Region), till safe touchdown at the Jamnagar airbase, close to midday, today.
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SWAC, Air Marshal KD Singh, Air Defence Commander Air Vice Marshal P Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, Air Commodore C Hari Kumar and air warriors of the airbase welcomed the crew of the AWACS aircraft that included the Commanding Officer of the first AWACS squadron, Group Captain B Saju. Their maiden touchdown on Indian soil also marks the first landing of the AWACS in an IAF airbase.
“It was a great feeling to be escorted by our fighters and it feels really good to be back”, said Group Captain B Saju upon arrival. Flown by a full complement of IAF pilots belonging to the newly formed squadron from Ovda International airport, located in southern Israel, the aircraft undertook an eight-and-a-half hour’s flight skirting around several countries taking the aerial route over the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea before landing at Jamnagar.
The aircraft is slated to arrive at Palam airport tomorrow where an induction ceremony is scheduled on May 28. The AWACS are slated to operate from the Agra airbase under Central Air Command and frenetic preparations ahead of its first arrival to join the extended fleet of the IL-76 family are complete.