India to Procure Two More A-50EI Phalcon AEW&C Aircraft

India is planning to procure two additional A-50EI Phalcon airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft for its Air Force (IAF) under a USD 1 billion deal.

A-50EI is based on the Beriev A-50 AEW&C platform, operated by the Russian Air Force, but equipped with EL/W-2090 Phalcon radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and its Elta subsidiary. The platform is based on the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport aircraft.

The EL/W-2090, which is a further development of IAI’s EL/M-2075 and EL/W-2085 radars, uses the active electronically scanned array (AESA)/ active phased array. This radar consists of an array transmit/receive (T/R) modules that allow a beam to be electronically steered, making a physically rotating rotodome unnecessary. AESA radars operate on a pseudorandom set of frequencies and also have very short scanning rates, which makes them difficult to detect and jam.

India currently operates three A-50EI Phalcon aircraft which was procured through a tri-partite deal signed between Israel, India, and Russia. In March 2004, Israel and India signed a US$1.1 billion deal according to which IAI would deliver the Indian Air Force three AEW&C radar systems, each of which was worth approximately $350 million. India signed a deal with Ilyushin of Russia for the supply of three Il-76 A-50 heavy airlifter platforms, which were to be used as platforms for these radar systems, for an additional US $500 million.

India received its first A-50EI Phalcon aircraft on 25 May 2009. It landed in Jamnagar AFB in Gujarat completing its 8 hour long journey from Israel.

In addition to the three Phalcons, IAF also operates two Netra AEW&C AEW&C system developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). This system is based on Embraer ERJ145 platform.

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