HomeAatmanirbhar BharatNetra Mark-II AEW&C to feature Secondary and Primary AESA radars on shoulder...

Netra Mark-II AEW&C to feature Secondary and Primary AESA radars on shoulder and nose cone to increase coverage to 300-degree

Source : Indian Defence Analysis


Netra Mark-II AEW&C to feature Secondary and Primary AESA radars on shoulder and nose cone to increase coverage to 300-degree
Netra Mk-2 AEW&C with Primary Radar (Bottom Left) and Secondary Radar (Bottom Right)

The development of Netra AEW&C Mark-I has been very interesting. If you look at the manufacturers of the Airborne early warning system around the world, most of them are also aircraft manufacturers for example SAAB, Boeing etc. India has been exception be it Phalcon AWACS or NETRA AEW&C. Therefore, DRDO had to face lot of changes in developing the NETRA AEW&C as for many activities they have to be dependent on the aircraft manufacturer.

The major components of Netra Mark-I are AESA based Primary Radar (PR), Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) which is also called SSR(Secondary Surveillance Radar), ELINT and SIGINT system hosted on an executive jet platform Embraer-145. The system has full net centric capability through multiple LOS and Satellite Communication Data links, on-board & Mission Computer. It is integrated with C- Band Data Link (CBDL), Ku- Band SATCOM data link (KBDL) & V/UHF communication link for voice communication.

All these systems are completely indigenous. The IFF Mk XII(S) system is a major spin-off technology from the AEW&C system which has been further used in QRSAM, Tapas, MRSAM and in future in LCA Mark2. The aircraft comes with the self-protection suite which includes: RWR, MAWS & CMDS (counter measure dispensing system). Netra Mark-I is capable of operating at altitude of more than 35,000 ft and has endurance of more than 8 hours with air-to-air refuelling. It provides 240-degree coverage, with radar having a range of 250-300 km.

DRDO has developed 3 Netra AEW&C Mark-I, however IAF needs at least 15-18 Airborne early warning systems considering the two front war situations.

Netra Mark-II: Capabilities

To further enhance the aerial surveillance & combat capability of the IAF, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in September 2021 approved the project to build six airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, at the cost of 10,990 crore. Netra Mark-II will be developed on pre-owned Airbus-A321 aircraft from Air India which is bigger & powerful aircraft than Embraer-145.

The AEW&C will feature GaN based TRMs. While Netra Mark1 has coverage of more than 240°, Mark-II will have coverage of 300°. The primary radar is a 4D AESA multi-mode radar i.e. can operate in air-to-air and air-to-sea mode and consists of two radars operating in S-band and X-band respectively.

The dorsal system like Netra Mark-I will have two active antenna array unit (AAAU) assembled back-to-back and mounted on top of the fuselage providing coverage of 240 degrees. The second AESA radar is placed at the nose cone providing coverage of +/- 30 degree in azimuth. Both radars are also integrated with IFF.

The other improvement can be seen in its self-protection suit which will feature dual colour missile approach warning system (DCMAWS). The aircraft will have operating altitude of 30,000ft, endurance of more than 6 hours with 45 mins of reserve fuel.

It will incorporate SATCOM, data link, identification of friend and foe system, electronic countermeasure system, self-protection suit, chaff dispenser and dual auxiliary power unit.

Netra : Timeline

During Aero India Show 2023, as per our interaction of DRDO officials, the delivery of Netra Mark-II will commence from 2025 onwards and all 6 Netra Mark-II AEW&C will be delivered by 2028.

Indian Air Force is also pushing for 6 more Netra AEW&C based on the proven platform of Embraer-145, however they will feature GaN based AESA radar which will be more powerful than existing Netra Mark-I AEW&C. Once the approval and funding for the same is released by government, the work will commence on these and can be delivered faster.

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