Ok...here you go, all about Indian AEW&C, from the horses mouth (Dr S Christopher, Director, Centre for Airborne Systems, Bangalore)
Sentinel of the Indian Air Space
In the early days of waging wars, the Chinese army sent up a soldier on a giant kite to observe enemy positions from some height and the air-borne observer continually shouted down his alerts to the commander on the ground, who then quickly ordered the countermoves to his troops. This clever â€˜Air-borne
Early Warning and Controlâ€™ (AEW&C) concept has come a real long way since then â€“ thanks to the technology explosion in the fields of Radar and Communication Engineering. With its ability to sense
the war situations in air-to-air and airto- surface, all-weather, day and night deployments, the modern AEW&C system has come to be regarded as a powerful â€˜Force Multiplierâ€™ in todayâ€™s military tactical
operations. The prime functions of the AEW&C system are three, viz., sensing the threat scenario, providing early warning to the friendly forces and enabling initiation and execution of counter-measures and
counter-threats, all in real-time. Actually, the most important facet of the AEW&C system is that it has the potential to stop a war even before it gets around to be started!
While 28 countries are known to have acquired the AEW&C capability, more countries have launched programmes to obtain tailor-made AEW&C systems to augment defence preparedness as perceived in their individual military context. A number of AEW&C systems are being built on a variety of platforms, like aerostats (balloons/airships), unmanned air vehicles, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft - both big and small. While a good number of systems are operational, the efforts continue to build a variety of systems that are at various stages of development and production all over the world.
The Indian AEW&C
The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have launched an AEW&C programme that is focussed on the needs of the Indian Air Force. The Centre for Air-Borne Systems (CABS) of the DRDO that is tasked with the development of the system is pursuing the
programme with participation of multiple work-centres from within DRDO as well as Industries in the Public and Private Sector. The Indian AEW&C system will detect, identify and classify threats present in the surveillance area and act as a Command and Control Centre to support Air Defence operations. The system with its multiple Communication and Data Links can alert and direct fighters against threats while providing â€˜Recognizable Air Surface Pictureâ€™ (RASP) to commanders at the Ground Exploitation Stations (GES) that are strategically located. The AEW&C system can thus support Air Force in offensive strike missions and assist Forces in the tactical battle area. What is more, the AEW&C system also comprises Electronic and Communication Support Measures that can intercept and counter unfriendly radar transmissions and communication signals.
Primary Surveillance Radar
The primary sensor for the AEW&C will be an Active Electronically Steered Array Radar with a normal detection range and an extended range against a target Radar Cross Section (RCS) of the fighter class
of aircraft. Two radiating planar arrays assembled back-to-back and mounted on top of the fuselage in a Dorsal Unit (DoU) will provide coverage on either side of the DoU. The important modes of operation of
the system are the sea surveillance and the air surveillance. The sensor has the abilities to search, track-while-scan, priority tracking, high performance tracking, etc. In priority tracking, the targets will be placed in full track mode even if it crosses the primary surveillance area. In high performance tracking, additional measurements will be made to improve the tracking accuracies. Utilising the active aperture technology, the radar provides a fast-beam agile system that can operate in several modes concurrently.
Secondary Surveillance Radar
The Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) system, or the Identification Friend or Foe system, determines whether the target detected by the Primary Radar is a â€˜friendâ€™ or â€˜foeâ€˜. The interrogator emits a message querying the target in a particular sector. Replies from the target are automatically associated with the Primary Radar detections. This information is then used by the AEW&C system to identify locations of friendly and unfriendly aircraft in the area and deal with them appropriately.
Mission Communications System (MCS)
The Mission Communications System provides Air-to-Air V/UHF voice and data channels. It also provides for integrated control of all on-board communication sets and intercom for the entire mission Work Station
Operators as well as the flight crew. The communication channels have in-built ECCM features as well. The various segments of the total operational system in the air and on the ground would have a multi-service standardized data link structure that enabled communication among the AEW&C Systems, other AWACS aircraft, the Fighter/Interceptor aircraft and the Ground Exploitation Systems..
Electronic Support Measure (ESM) and Communication Support
The ESM and CSM systems will support suppression of hostile air defences. This will be achieved by performing the surveillance of the environment for detection and identification of hostile emitters of both communication and non-communication types. Towards this, the ESM system operates over a wide range of frequencies with complete coverage of 360Â° in azimuth and -15Â° to 5Â° in elevation. The ESM thus provides the bearing and the location of the hostile emitters to augment the Primary Radar performance. The system is capable of analyzing and identifying the emitter characteristics with a frequency accuracy of 1 MHz
and a directional accuracy of 2Â° (rms). An easy search method to scan through the database library of 3,000 emitters would also be a feature of the ESM. The system also has the capability to record and save the data for post-flight analysis. The CSM system shall intercept the communication signals and perform the required analysis for in-flight operations. It additionally records the signals on-board for post- flight analysis.
Self Protection System (SPS)
The AEW&C system will have a Self Protection sub-system. The SPS shall consist of Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Missile Approach Warning system (MAWS) and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS). The RWR function will be augmented by the ESM and will consist of the Warner Library and
Display. The MAWS will be a passive UV based system and, augmented with the RWR, will give necessary warning to the pilot to appropriately activate the CMDS. It provides the essential displays to the pilot and helps in the activation of the CMDS as well as adoption of escape maneuvers for self-protection.
Mission System Controller (MSC)
The Mission System Controller will integrate the information from all the above-mentioned sensors. Its functions include system controls, mission modes, functional control logic, redundant array of independent disks (RAID), database management, integrity function, multi-sensor data fusion, health monitoring, time synchronization, bus control and other housekeeping functions. In addition, MSC will carry out the intercept control functions. MSC will interface with the DHDS system for all operator control and display features.
Data Handling and Display System DHDS)
DHDS will facilitate mission system operators to interface with the AEW&C system. The AEW&C system will have Operator Work Stations for Surveillance, Interception, and ESM & CSM functions. All the consoles can be reconfigured as required. In general, menus, displays and other
presentation logic can be performed by each console. The consoles also help in planning of the mission with communication information handling, weather data handling, mission data preparation and handling.
The AEW&C system will be capable of interoperating with other AEW&C systems, fighters, and AWACS aircraft in the air and other earlywarning and air-defence systems on the ground. The data from the Radar, ESM and CSM can be down linked to the ground stations and the tactical
control data up-linked to the AEW&C system. To this end, the AEW&C system will communicate to the Ground Exploitation Stations through â€˜Câ€™- Band Data Link and SATCOM. The Data Links will operate with two voice channels.
The Aircraft platform to house the AEW&C System should have the matching flight performance attributes to facilitate that the Mission System tasks are performed effectively during the operational missions. To facilitate extended operations, the endurance of the aircraft can be augmented by an In-Flight Refuelling system
The AEW&C System will boost the Air Forceâ€™s Air Operations Capability. The System is multidisciplinary and complex and is projected to be designed, developed, tested, certified and inducted into service in an optimal timeframe. Indigenous development of the Indian AEW&C means three things to the Nation: (i) Air Force is getting a system that costs a fraction of the price of a comparable system in the world market, (ii)
the indigenous capabilities being generated in terms of technologies and infrastructure will be an assurance against technology denials by bigbrother nations and (iii) the â€˜feel goodâ€™ factor of becoming one among the select group of Nations who really have the wherewithal to make
a machine of this kind.
The adversaries of India should soon be nervous even to warn their forces, â€˜Keep off and keep quiet, the Indian AEW&C is on the prowlâ€™, as they would know that the Indian AEW&C would be watching,
sensing and listening to whatever happens in its domain! Globally speaking, it seems possible that AEW&Cs around the planet Earth can bring about a World Without War, or, nip the war in the bud, if
ever someone thoughtlessly triggered one.