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IAF to receive second AWACS on Thursday

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AWACS will provide IAF the means to keep a tab on enemy aircraft

NEW DELHI (PTI): India will receive another Israeli-made Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) on Thursday, giving it the second 'eye in the sky' for enhanced surveillance that would virtually cover the entire nation.

The second AWACS will arrive in Jamnagar in Gujarat and will be deployed in Agra, IAF officials said here today.

With the arrival of the second AWACS, officials said the IAF can keep an eye on both the eastern and western front at the same time.

"After the induction of the third system, we would be able to virtually cover the whole nation at one go," they added.

The system, primarily used for detection of incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft from hundreds of kilometers away, can also direct air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets. It also helps detect troop buildup across the borders.

The AWACS are being procured from Israel under a 2003 deal worth USD 1.1 billion.

The tripartite deal also involved Russia as three Phalcon radars are to be mounted on Russia-make IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft, of which the first was delivered in May last year.

The AWACS aircraft are operated by the Agra-based 50 squadron and after their induction on May 28 last year, they have been carrying out extensive flying operations with frontline fighters such as the Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000 and the Jaguars.

The AWACS also took part in the recently-held major exercise codenamed 'Vayushakti' and controlled the flight operations of over 100 aircraft participating in the massive Fire-power demonstration.

Known as 'eye in the sky' for its surveillance and target acquisition capabilities, an AWACS provides IAF the means to keep a tab on enemy aircraft and missiles taking off from across the border, thereby enhancing response time.

India and Israel are said to be in advanced negotiations for the purchase of three more Phalcon AWACS, which the IAF proposes to integrate with other air and ground assets. All six AWACS would be linked with the country's first military satellite proposed to be launched by the middle of next year.

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