As important as the Teeth and the Claws are the Shoulders and the Jaws. The fighters like Sukhois, Rafel and Tejas are the teeth of the IAF. The full set of 63 Fighter Squadrons will be there in the foreseeable future to enable India to fight a two front war, in case it is ever thrust on it. They will provide the capacity to not only defend from both the Chinese and Pakistani aerial onslaught but also hit nice and proper deep inside Pakistan, Tibet and even parts of China.
The Indian Jaggernaut to acquire these fighters from indigenous source and in planned time frame has commenced rolling under the new BJP Government. However now is the time to concentrate on strengthing the jaws and the shoulders too? This will be done by building up our Airborne —Early Warning, Electronic Warfare and increasing the reach and staying up capability of our Fighters.
We do have the basics with help from Israel, the Russians and of course our own Scientists. Now we need to increase the pace of our build up, so that by the time we have the 63 fighter squadrons, we also have the Force Multipliers. Hence the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July this year will be a big step in our quest for the Force Multipliers.
This first visit ever by an Indian Prime Minister will not only give a major boost to Indi—Israeli bilateral relations but also signal to all and sundry that India will no more be apologetic to ANY ONE with respect to its friends.
Thus apart from the deal to purchase combat drones the other major defence deal expected to be finalized during the visit will be for two additional Phalcon long range Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) to augument the three systems already in service with the Air Force. The Phalcons are based on IL-76 transport aircraft and as per the Russian industry officials India has already ordered aircraft for the purpose. The Israel Aerospace Industries Phalcon is an Israeli manufactured Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control system which is one of the most powerful such system in the world. It provides real time surveillance even beyond 400 kms apart from providing command and control. It can pick up a low flying aircraft, a missile or communication and provide advance warning.
It will not only help the IAF to maintain full control of the intended airspace but its four sensors can also pick up all types of communications from air, sea or land and keep the Air Defence Direction and Control Centre fully updated in real time frame information collected can be conveyed live to the control centre in the headquarters. Nearly all other AWACS rot domes, mounted on an aircraft which are rotating. However Phalcon has a stationary dome mounted on the aircraft and based on an active electronically scanned array (AESA), an active phased array radar Technology.
Now India too has been working on this complex technology since long. There was a tragic crash a few years which was a big setback. However we have come out of it and the first of the Indian AWES based on EBRAER aircraft has been handed over to the IAF. Now we need to focus on getting the AWACS technology and get it perfected. Israeli help should be taken to the limit they are willing. Our aim should be to ultimately have 30 AWACS in five squadrons —-one each for North Western Front, Central Front and Eastern Front. The balance two Squadrons for Western Coast, Eastern Coast, Southern Coast and the Andaman’s. The latest version of IL 76 developed by the Russians should be finalized and licensed manufactures in the country. As we will need similar numbers of Aerial refuellers and in addition six squadrons of heavy lifters in 50 ton capacity. There will also be a need to finalize the aircraft for the AWES or carry on with the Embraer itself and have one squadron each comprising 9 aircrafts, for each of the Air Commands that is 5 squadrons.