Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Procurement delays leave IAF with only 3 AWACS as PAF races ahead

New Delhi: Securing the nation's airspace could soon become a more challenging task for the Indian Air Force, as it faces delays in inducting additional airborne warning and control aircraft, even as Pakistan is slated to see its own fleet of such aircraft increase by year-end.

The deal for two more Phalcon AWACS, which are to be procured under a three-nation deal involving India, Israel, and Russia, is stuck because of a sharp escalation in the price of the Russian aircraft that will house the Israeli sensors, The Times of India reported on Tuesday. Citing sources, the national daily said that while the government was ready to pay close to $800 million for the two AWACS, the price being demanded by the original equipment manufacturers was $1.3 billion.

According to one of the sources quoted by the report, Russia "has majorly jacked up the prices" for the IL-76 aircraft, "which is unacceptable to the government".

Currently, the Air Force operates just three Phalcon AWACS — Israeli Aerospace Industries' third-generation airborne early warning and control systems, called ELW-2090, installed on a Russian IL-76 heavy military transport aircraft.

The deal is hanging fire even as the end of 2017 approaches. In March of 2016, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had cleared the proposal to acquire two more Phalcon AWACS at a cost of Rs 7,500 crore.

The shortage of AWACS comes at a time when Pakistan is expanding its own fleet of these vital platforms.
03/10/17 Business Standard