Delivery of Indian AEW Aircraft Delayed to Early 2009

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The first of three PHALCON AEW aircraft delivered to India under the Russian-Israeli-Indian deal.

With flight testing continued beyond schedule, delivery of the first aircraft has slipped in about six months. Meanwhile, India plans buying more Aerostat-borne radars from Israel

Indian IL76 Phalcon AEW aircraft undergoing flight testing in Israel. Photo: The delivery of three Israeli Phalcon Airborne early Warning aircraft has been delayed again. Originally planned for delivery in November 2007 and pushed back to September 2008, the first aircraft slated to arrive in India by January – February 2009. Hopefully, the aircraft will be available for India’s major aerospace event – Aero India 2009.

Indian IL-76 AEW aircraft undergoing flight testing in Israel, after the AEW radar systems have been installed by IAI's Elta Systems. Photo: Rami Mizrachi.

The $1.1 billion program suffered several setbacks due to late arrival of the Russian built IL-76 aircraft in Israel. The aircraft is currently undergoing flight testing in Israel. “There have been technical hitches in the integration work. But we are pushing the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) to deliver the first Awacs before the end of this year,” a source in India informed the Times of India.

Development and integration of AEW aircraft proved to be a significant challenge for all companies involved in such programs. A similar program conducted by Boeing in Australia has been delayed for several years.

The newspaper also indicated that India is also on course to acquire four more Israeli Aerostat radars, at a cost of around $300 million, to bolster its ability to detect hostile low-flying aircraft, helicopters, spy drones and missiles. These radars will succeed two similar systems carrying the EL/M-2083 radars, deployed in 2004-2005 as part of a $145 million contract.