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Russia to deliver first AWACS plane to India 'soon'

A-50 AWACS aircraft developed on the basis of Il-76MD military transport plane. RIA Novosti image

BANGALORE (BNS): Russia will deliver the first A-50 AWACS aircraft developed on the basis of Il-76MD military transport plane soon, a Russian aircraft industry official said here on Thursday.

In 2001, India ordered three A-50EI variants fitted with the Israeli-made Phalcon radar system. According to the order, Russia had to deliver the first aircraft in 2007-08 but it has been delayed.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the Aero India 2009 air show, Viktor Livanov, vice-president of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, said that the AWACS version of Il-76 would be soon delivered to India.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti said that in many aspects, the A-50 is comparable to the E-3 Sentry of the US Air Force. It is fitted with an aerial refueling system and electronic warfare equipment, and can detect targets up to 400 km (250 miles) away.

The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation programme until 2010 includes up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion.

In addition to the Russian A-50 aircraft, India has recently purchased eight Boeing P-81 long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft from the United States, and signed a deal with Brazil to jointly integrate domestically developed AWACS systems onto three Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft to be later commissioned with the Indian Air Force.

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