HomeIndian Air PowerEyeing China and Pakistan, MoD clears 6 Netra Mk1A AEW&CS, 3 SIGINT-COMJAMM,...

Eyeing China and Pakistan, MoD clears 6 Netra Mk1A AEW&CS, 3 SIGINT-COMJAMM, and 6 flight refueling aircraft to enhance the capability of the Indian Air Force

Source : Indian Defence Analysis

Eyeing China and Pakistan, MoD clears 6 Netra Mk1A AEW&CS, 3 SIGINT-COMJAMM and 6 flight refuelling aircraft to enhance the capability of the Indian Air Force
An Indian Air Force Netra Mk1 AEW&CS, on which Netra Mk1A will be based on, albeit with new technologies and advanced sensors

16th February 2024 was an important day for Indian Defense acquisition as MoD approved some of the important and crucial projects which have been hanging there for quite some time and will greatly boost Indian Armed Forces capabilities. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) for capital acquisition proposals amounting to Rs 84,560 crore.

We have already made one video and informed our viewers regarding this, however, there are few more information with regards to the AoN that has been shared which we will be discussing in this video.

The few more important acquisitions which have been accorded by DAC are 6 Netra Mark1A, three signal intelligence and communication-jamming aircraft & Nirbhay cruise missile.

6 Netra Mark1A & in-flight refuellers

Indian Air Force is in desperate need of force multiplier aircraft such as airborne early warning platforms and in-flight refuellers. AoN for both these proposals has been given by MoD. If we look at the airborne early warning platforms, IAF has 2 Phalcon AWACS and 3 Netra AWE&C. However, its adversaries and immediate neighbours China and Pakistan has 30 & 9 such platforms respectively.

Watch our video ‘DAC gives approval of weapons worth Rs. 84,560 crore : Complete Details !!’

In 2021, CCS has already approved 6 AEW&C Mark2 based on A321 aircraft.  The AEW&C will feature GaN-based Primary and Secondary radars. While Netra Mark1 has coverage of more than 240°, Mark-II will have coverage of 300°. The aircraft will have an operating altitude of 30,000ft, an endurance of more than 6 hours with 45 minutes of reserve fuel. The new improved and powerful AEW&C MK-II is expected to be delivered to IAF by the year 2028.

This will take the total count of airborne early platforms to 11. The recent acquisition AoN for 6 Netra Mark1A will further add to the numbers taking the count to 17. The new Netra Mark1A is going to be based on the Embraer-145 executive jet. The entire proposal will cost around Rs 9,000 crore. These AEW&C will include an improved & upgraded Human Mission Interface (HMI), Data Links & mission suite. Several imported systems used in Mark1 have been replaced in Mk1A which includes ground-based Data Links, ground-based & airborne terminals, ELINT & RWR. The new AEW&C will be more advanced than its predecessor with better software and technology such as GaN-based T/R modules.

KC 30 A39 002 refuelling an USAF F 16 cropped

The next force multiplier for IAF is going to be in-flight refuellers. In March 2003, IAF received six Uzbekistan-made Ilyushin IL-78MKI flight refuelling aircraft (FRA) with a Russian airframe based on the IL-76 and an Israeli fuel transfer system. Plagued with maintenance issues, IAF needs more of such platforms. The AoN for 6 of these aircraft will be a big relief and boost to IAF capability. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 9,000 crore. The refuellers will be based on pre-owned aircraft which will modified as a refueller.

On 6th April 2022, HAL and Israel Aerospace Industries signed a MoU for Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT). Under the pact, HAL will convert pre-owned Civil (Passenger) aircraft into air refuelling aircraft with cargo and transport capabilities. HAL is planning to acquire 6 Boeing-767 aircraft that can be converted from civil to military versions. It will be commenced by floating a global tender to purchase second-hand Boeing-767s from the market.

Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Communication Jammer (COMJAM) Aircraft (SCA)

The next airborne platform approved by IAF is Signal Intelligence & COMJAM Aircraft (SCA). AoN has been granted for 3 such platforms with an estimated cost of Rs 6,300 crore. The SCA will be based on pre-owned Airbus A-319 class aircraft and loaded with heavy-duty sensors. These aircraft are going to be long-endurance multi-mission aircraft capable of performing SIGINT & COMINT functions.


Its primary role will be passive intelligence gathering and signal jamming. In the COMJAM role, the aircraft will perform the jamming of RF signals based on the signal data collected by the aircraft’s ELINT and COMINT assets and even it can receive details via the Indian Air Force’s IACCS network. The passive surveillance capability will help aircraft to identify and classify ELINT and COMINT emitters.

To summarise, the recent AoN granted by DAC underpins a mega acquisition proposal to boost the aerial surveillance capability of the Indian Air Force. The acquisition of 6 Netra Mark1A, 6 in-flight refuellers and 3 SCA will greatly boost the IAF capability to dominate the air space. Besides IAF, the Navy and ICG have also got approval for 15 Maritime reconnaissance aircraft based on the C-295 platform.



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Aatmanirbhar Bharat


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