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AWACS gives a boost to IAF project

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AWACS, a Phalcon Israeli radar system mounted on a Russian IL-76 aircraft. Photo credit: PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI): The IAF's ambitious project for digitising its command and control system through the Air Force Network (AFNET) has got a boost with the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) getting operational.

The Phalcon AWACS, a force multiplier that could provide advance intelligence on incoming enemy aircraft or missiles much beyond visual range, is a vital link in the AFNET for integrating the force's land and air-based assets into a single communication system.

The Israeli-built Phalcon system, inducted last month, mounted on an Russian IL-76 transport aircraft is the air element of the AFNET, which envisages connecting over 250 land assets of the IAF with its airborne platforms, including fighter aircrafts.

"Integration of the AWACS with other assets of the IAF, including combat aircrafts, will provide a robust decision-making cycle for air force commanders," a senior IAF officer told PTI Monday.

"The AWACS will provide the IAF an eye in the skies to perform surveillance and reconnaissance roles and provide beyond visual range intelligence on incoming enemy aircraft and missiles well in advance, providing enough time for IAF combat aircraft and air defence systems to respond to the threat," he said.

The IAF is already working on an advanced Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) that will be part of the AFNET.

"With IAF rapidly progressing with its network centricity plans, AWACS is an important element...The air link...In the IACCS," the officer said.

The AWACS will link the IAF's ground and air-based weapon platforms and communication system, which would be vital for IAF's network-centric operations.

With IAF aiming to become a network-centric force by 2010-11, it has been trying to inter-link land, air and space assets and platforms to provide real-time information for increasing its situational awareness during battle.

Under the AFNET project, the IAF has already linked about 100 of its land-based assets and platforms to the IACCS, the officer said.

"Once we have AFNET in place, we will have seamless connectivity with AWACS, UAVs, combat aircraft and other sensors both land-based and airborne. It will give clear, real-time information on battle space situation. This is important for the commanders, as it provides them the necessary flexibility and required punch in the complex battle plan," the officer added.

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