India’s indigenous Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&C), which is being built on a modified Embraer EMB-145 aircraft in Brazil, made its first flight Dec. 6.

“[India’s] first fully modified aircraft for indigenously developed AEW&C took to [the] skies Tuesday, as part of its first flight in Embraer facilities at Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil, with about 1,000 mission system components provided by [the Defense Research Development Organization’s] Center for Airborne Systems,” said V.K. Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defense minister and DRDO chief.

AEW&C aircraft are capable of detecting enemy aircraft or UAVs and relaying information to ground bases. The most critical mission systems component is the active, electronically scanned array radar developed by DRDO.

“The flight is a major milestone toward realizing the dream of [an] indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System, which will put India into a select club of countries,” Saraswat says.

Meanwhile, the Indian air force (IAF) is interested in acquiring two more Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft based on the Russian IL-76 platform and the Israeli Phalcon AWACS Radar.

India currently has three AWACS aircraft and will receive two more by the middle of next year, while AEW&C aircraft will now undergo a full certification process over the next two years.

“Here, the mission systems developed by various DRDO labs will be integrated with these aircraft,” Saraswat says. “Currently, these systems are undergoing ground integration and evaluation ... in Bengaluru.” Two of these systems will be delivered to the IAF after detailed test and evaluation by 2013.