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Defexpo 2022: DRDO displays improved AEW&C system

The AEW&C Mk 2 based on the Airbus A321 platform. The DRDO is modifying six aircraft. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed an advanced airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system being developed for the Indian Air Force (IAF), at Defexpo 2022, being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, from 18 to 22 October.

The system, which is known as the AEW&C Mk 2, is being developed by the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a lab of the DRDO.

CABS said that work to finalise development of the new mission systems is continuing. The systems will be integrated with the Airbus A321 narrowbody twin-engined jetliner platform.

According to K Rajalakshmi Menon, director of CABS, six A321s have been procured from the airline, Air India, for adaptation as AEW&C aircraft.

Menon told Janes that the system offers improvements compared with existing AEW&C mission systems deployed on Embraer EMB-145 Netra aircraft. Janes data specifies that two Netras are operational with the IAF.

According to CABS, the features of the Mk 2 include an enhanced radar plus identification friend or foe (IFF). Additional mission systems comprise electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) capabilities. CABS declined to provide specifics on these systems. The lab added that systems will be on “par with similar systems in international markets”.

The Mk 2 mission systems have “enhanced communication technologies catering for higher data rates and encryption capabilities, and integration with [the] Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS)”, the lab said.

The IACCS is an automated air-defence command-and-control centre for controlling and monitoring air operations by the IAF.

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