Agra air base readying for three Israeli AWACS
A flurry of activity is underway at the Agra air force base here as it readies to receive the first lot of three advanced Israeli air-borne early warning and control radar system (AWACS) that will act as the Air Force's eye in the sky.
The station has initiated construction of a new avionics lab, lengthening the present runway and a process to integrate the ground systems before they welcome the AWACS in February next year.
The AWACS mounted on IL-76 aircraft are being readied at Uzbekistan.
"The sophisticated radar system is currently being integrated by the Uzbekistan-based manufacturers of the IL-76 planes.
There are some delays to ensure that the aircraft functional displays do not disturb the radar readings once mounted on the IL-76 platform," said Air officer Commanding at Agra Air base Air Commodore Shouvik Roy, following his visit to the aircraft manufacturing facility.
After Roy's visit to Russia, a team from the radar manufacturers Israel-based Elta had visited the air station recently and expressed satisfaction over the preparations.
"Some stringent integration process is underway for which Elta is assisting the aircraft manufacturers. We had expressed that the air station would be ready in full preparedness by November to receive the three planes in the first batch," Roy said.
The Agra air base that already houses an IL-76 transport squadron and a squadron of IL-78 MKI air-to-air refueler aircrafts, will also be home to the AWACS that will give a major boost to the air defence and assault tactics of the Indian Air Force.
The existing runway length of 9,000 feet at the base is being extended to 10,500 feet and work is on for setting up three new hangars.
The avionics laboratory at the station, which already handles avionics systems of the existing IL-76 and IL-78 MKI aircraft, is also readying to accommodate the calibration and the integration processes of the new radar system.
A Transport Aircraft Operations Tactics Development Cell (TAOTDC), the top gun school of transport aircraft in India, is also getting ready for future courses considering the induction of the AWACS, Air Force officials here said.
"Even after the arrival of the state-of-art radar warning system, our earlier radar systems will still be operational. Some of them will even be integrated with the new system to achieve formidable net-centric operational capability," Roy said.
The air base which is set to be the future nerve centre for the Air Force is in the process to obtain the requisite quality management certification to become the nodal centre for service of the AWACS and IL class aircraft.
Israel-based Elta would also provide the required training material and assist the Indian Air Force engineers to adopt to the hi-tech integration process.
The Israeli AWACS radar system, in addition to providing precision strike capabilities to Air Force assets, will give the much-needed strategic teeth to the forces.