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India receives second Phalcon AWACS

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India received itís First Phalcon AWACS in May 2009. A file photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): India received the second of the three contracted Israeli-made Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control System at the Jamnagar air base Thursday, giving it the second 'eye in the sky' for enhanced surveillance capabilities.

The second AWACS arrived in Gujarat from Israel in the evening and will be deployed in Agra, IAF officials said here.

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 and with the induction of the third system, expected later this year, virtually covering the entire nation.

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 aircraft. It also helps detect troop build-up across the border.

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

The tripartite deal also involved Russia as three Phalcon radars are to be mounted on Russian-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 the induction of the first system 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.

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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