India is considering the Acquisition of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft from the Soviet Union which Moscow has recently unveiled,

In view of the deteriorating security environment in the region, military experts feel that up to three Soviet AWACS could be purchased for the Indian Air Force.

The Soviets have all along been saying that they did not have AWACS but now claim they have “something” which matches the sophisticated E3As, the American AWACS that Pakistan wants.

The Soviet AWACS, which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had condemned “Mainstay”, are said to be able to detect Cruise missiles and low flying targets with pinpoint accuracy.

The Soviet AWACS are also considered to be vastly superior to the previous Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft based on the TU126. The AWACS are now in operation in the Kola Peninsula of the Soviet Union.

Military experts say that it should not be difficult to make the Soviet AWACS compatible with high performance fighter interceptors which the IAF has.

Most Air Force frontline squadrons now comprise MiG21 BIS, MiG 23 MF and the latest MiG29s with which the Soviet AWACS could be easily integrated. However, the AWACS may not be compatible with the Mirage 2000 aircraft but then the [AF has only two Mirage squadrons.

The Soviets have converted their heavy airlift IL76 aircraft by installing the latest electronic counter measures (ECM) equipment and mounted a rotating rotodome containing the radar on it which has six revolutions per minute. The rotodome does not interfere with the flight stability of the aircraft as it is aerodynamically shaped.

A recent Pentagon publication called “Soviet military plans” published from Washington has stated that hit Soviet IL76 AWACS has a new identification friends and foe (IFF) system. It incorporates comprehensive ECM and electronic counter-counter measures equipment on board.

‘The IL76’s high tail makes for good rearward radar coverage. The AWACS has an inflight refueling system which could give it endurance upwards of 12 hours.

The Indian Air Force already has a couple of IL76 aircraft which are being used as freight and troop transporters.

The IL76 AWACS are fitted with four Soloviev D30 turbofan engines and can cruise at 850 km per hour at a height of 13,000 meters.

 India has been forced to open negotiations with the Soviet Union for the supply of AWACS since an AWACS capability would provide Pakistan with an edge.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 1, 1988