The network-centric warfare operations of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are ready to get a boost as India’s indigenous development of a compact Airborne Early Warning Control System (AEW CS) will witness its first flight test on the Embraer aircraft. The homegrown AEW CS is being developed by the DRDO lab called Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS) will be integrated into modified Embraer aircraft (EMB145 I). The maiden flight of the EMB145 I is scheduled in Brazil in December first week this year.
CABS, the Bangalore-based DRDO lab has been developing the systems to turn the Embraer-145 I into a lethal aircraft capable of deterring any potential threats. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive three such platforms and the integration of the systems is underway at the DRDO lab. The development of the indigenous AEW CS by India will put India in the list of countries with homegrown airborne early warning systems.
With the addition of the AEW CS, the modified EMB-145 I will become powerful platform carrying mission systems, radar, communication units and electronic warfare systems. Besides increasing network-centric warfare capabilities, it will perform a host of surveillance duties including the tracking of aircraft, UAVS and even detection of radar signals. It will be a multi-sensor platform wherein the radars will detect and identify targets as friends or foes and the electronics support measures provide details of hostile emitters
The new EMB-145 I platform will have the ability to scan up to 400 kilometres, operate with a maximum crew of 12 and can fly non-stop for 10-12 hours with mid-air-refueling. . Besides the communication support measures to assess signals and the self-protection system that will give warnings regarding enemy radars and missiles, the advanced data links help interoperate with friendly fighters, other AEW CS aircraft and air defence systems on the ground.
India and Brazil had signed an agreement in 2008 to modify the Embraer aircraft and to integrate the Active Array Antenna Unit (AAAU) on the aircraft's fuselage. The various sub-systems of the AEW&C Mission system will also be integrated into the modified aircraft by DRDO. The AEW&C system comprises many sub-systems like Radar and communication links that are being designed and developed by DRDO. Under this roughly $210 million deal, the Brazilian company will supply India 3 EMB-145s with the system mounted on them. The first aircraft will be in India by mid-2012, with the second and third expected by end 2012 and December 2013 respectively. According to sources, CABS will need at least six months to integrate the sub-systems after the first EMB-145 I arrives in India.
Meanwhile, Embraer is gearing for the maiden test flight of the EMB-145 I aircraft in December this year. A host of stringent safety measures are being undertaken by the Brazilians to make the flight a success. One of the tests on the aircraft is to either put it in steep dive or in a stall condition. In the stall condition, the speed of the aircraft will be decreased to such an extent that it will start plunging. . Hence, during the stall tests, the test pilots will have to respond fast and reverse the stall process to recover the aircraft flight. To reduce the speed of the fall, parachutes will be deployed to slow the speed, giving the pilot’s enough time to increase the throttle and bring the aircraft out of the dangerous dive process.
In addition to CABS, the AEW&CS programme is pursued by a core team comprising various DRDO laboratories, including Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE), Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL) and Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL) with close participation of Indian Air Force.