India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) handed over the second of three indigenously designed Netra airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems to the Indian Air Force (IAF) on 11 September to augment the service's network centric capabilities.
The system was delivered to Bhatinda Air Force Station in Punjab State close to India's border with Pakistan. Mounted on a Brazilian-made Embraer EMB-145 by the DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) in Bangalore, the Netra AEW&C system provides 240-degree coverage and surveillance ranges between 250 km and 375 km.
The first Netra system was delivered to the IAF at the 2017 Aero India show in Bangalore. At the time the DRDO said that the second such system would be delivered within the same year. However, DRDO sources explained that the handover was delayed by about two years following IAF demands for modifications and capability improvements in Netra.
IAF officials said that the service deployed its sole Netra platform alongside the Mirage 2000H fighters that bombed an alleged Islamist militant training base in northwest Pakistan in late February in retaliation for a bomb attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir a fortnight earlier.
The CABS-developed AEW&C system comprises an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, secondary surveillance radar, electronic and communication countermeasures, beyond-line-of-sight datalinks, satellite communication systems, and advanced identification friend-or-foe probes.
With an air-to-air re-fuelling capability to augment its five-hour operational endurance, the ERJ-145's self-protection suite includes missile approach and radar warning receivers.
DRDO officials said the Netra platform is capable of delivering a 'recognisable air surveillance picture' of aerial threats via search, track-while-scan and priority-track modes to provide airborne and ground-based assets their exact location for possible exploitation.
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