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India to get Phalcon AWACS in May

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Israel Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS). A File Photo

JERUSALEM, (PTI): India will get its first 'eye in the sky', the Phalcon AirborneWarning and Control Systems (AWACS), aircraft on May 18, which will provide the IAF means to track incoming missiles and look deep into the neighbouring countries without violating any air space.

The first Phalcon was inspected by top Indian Defence officials who came here to check the specially modified Russian IL-76 aircraft and set May 18 as the delivery date.

"The other two aircraft would be delivered by mid or late 2010, if everything goes on schedule," Defence sources said Thursday.

The delivery of the aircraft bought at a whopping price of USD 1.1 billion is almost a year and a half behind schedule. As per the tripartite deal between India, Russia and Israel, the aircraft should have been delivered by the end of March this year.

India and Israel are reported to be in advanced negotiations for the purchase of three more Phalcon AWACS, which the Indian Air Force proposes to integrate with other air and ground assets.

All the six AWACS would be linked with the country's first military satellite proposed to be launched by mid next year.
The Phalcons will be mounted on Russia delivered Ilyushin-76 aircraft and the technical difficulties involved in integrating the whole system is said to have contributed a good deal to the delay. The surveillance system will provide the IAF with intelligence inputs, helping it to maintain air superiority, improve strike capabilities and conduct tactical surveillance deep into neighbouring countries without violating their airspace.

It is an all weather system capable of logging 60 targets simultaneously and has a range of 400 Km.
The US had earlier pressurised Israel to cancel a similar deal with China in 2000 but gave green light to the deal with India in May 2003.

Israel has recently emerged as India's largest supplier of defence equipments and with the country's weapon sales to New Delhi constituting about 50 per cent of its exports. According to news reports, Russia had averaged sales of $875 million annually to India for the past 40 years.

The Phalcon (phased array L-band conformal radar) was designed and manufactured by Elta. It includes radar, electronic intelligence systems, and communication equipment.

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