After inducting its first Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), the IAF is planning to replace the Russian IL-76 aircraft with some other “modern aircraft” as the platform for the system in future.
India is the first country in South Asia to own an AWACS, popularly called ‘an eye in the sky’.
“The first three AWACS will be based on the Russian IL-76s but they are older aircraft and they will be replaced with modern aircraft, which have same endurance as the IL-76,” an IAF source told the news agency in New Delhi.
Officials, however, said the process to look out for new platforms for AWACS will begin only after the remaining two systems are inducted in the IAF.
The second of the AWACS is expected to be in India by early 2010 and the last one by the end of next year.
The aircraft being looked as a replacement for the IL-76 include Embraer and Gulfstream 550, which can carry out flying missions of over nine hours at a stretch.
On operations by AWACS, the source said, “all the equipment for the system to work will take another two to three months to arrive. So, it will take three months before they start operational flying.”
The aircraft will be deployed in Agra with IAF’s 50 Squadron under Allahabad-based Central Air Command but will be assigned tasks directly by the Air Headquarters.