India plans to develop its own Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft as part of the modernization program of the Indian air force (IAF).

“To leverage the experience and expertise gained in the design and development of Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems, a project proposal for indigenous development of India AWACS by the Defense Research and Development Organization has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security on Feb. 12, 2013,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony says.

The project is expected to be completed by 2020. “The development of India AWACS is envisaged to be completed in 84 months from the date of formal sanction of the program,” Antony says.

India already has AWACS aircraft under development using the Russian IL-76 platform and the Israeli Phalcon Radar, and three in service. The IAF is aiming to induct and operate as many as 15 AWACS systems, including aircraft under the just-announced indigenous program.

Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne recently said, “[India is] a very large country and our interests are extending beyond our borders as well, including Car Nicobar islands and those areas, so we require that number of platforms.”

India last year received new Airborne Early Warning & Control systems mounted on Brazilian Embraer aircraft, which will be inducted into the IAF in April 2014.

Antony says the IAF’s modernization is progressing as per the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP 2012-2027) and Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP). “It takes two to three years to complete various stages of procurement and conclude the contract according to DPP,” he says.

Referring to the proposed acquisition of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, the minister says contract negotiations are in progress with Dassault Aviation of France, which is providing the Rafale fighter.

E-3 Sentry AWACS photo: Boeing