Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA July-August 2017 Contents AEW
28 DefenceReviewAsia | JULY/AUG 2017
have been seen on the Liaoning since 2009. These
feature a radar behind the loading ramp, which can
be lowered when needed.
To avoid lagging too far behind its neighbours China
and Pakistan, India is putting a lot of effort into AEW
programmes, with a focus on indigenous production.
During Aero India on 14 February this year, the Indian
Air Force (IAF) inducted into service the Netra AEW
aircraft, based on the Embraer EMB-145i platform with
an S-band radar developed by the Defence Research
and Development Organisation (DRDO). This radar
has a range of over 250 km and 240 degree coverage,
but the DRDO is working on a system with 360
degree scanning. Three EMB-145s were ordered
from Embraer in June 2008 and all were supposed
to be operational by 2015 - but after struggling with
technical problems the DRDO will only hand the
second over in June this year and the third much later
after further modifications and testing.
In 2014 India began looking at mounting radars
on two Airbus A330s and is considering acquiring
up to six of these aircraft for induction into service
by 2025. Airbus Defence and Space was the only
bidder for this project and has been shortlisted for
it, which will go a long way to realising India’s goal
of ultimately getting 15-20 AEW aircraft into service.
The A330 acquisition is awaiting approval from the
Cabinet Committee on Security.
The IAF is basing its Netras at Bhisiana Air Force
Station, the second such air force station after Agra,
which is home to its three Beriev A-50EI aircraft.
These, based on the Il-76TD, were delivered from May
2009, and feature an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)/
Elta EL/W-2075 Phalcon active electronically scanned
array (AESA) radar, which has a range of 380 to 400
km and the ability to track around 60 to 100 targets
simultaneously. At Aero India in February, Russia and
India signed a contract for the supply of additional
A-50EIs to be supplied by United Aircraft Corporation,
with IAI to provide the radar. The number involved
was not disclosed, but India has for some time been
seeking two more. In addition to the Indian Air Force,
the Navy also flies AEW aircraft in the form of nine Ka-
31s, delivered in two batches in 2003 and 2013.
Earlier this year it emerged that Pakistan is acquiring
three more Saab 2000 Erieye AEW aircraft from
Sweden to boost its fleet. Pakistan Air Force chief Air
Chief Marshal Sohail Aman in April said the first will
arrive in December and the rest in 2018. Saab in May
said it had signed a deal with an undisclosed customer
for AEW aircraft, with deliveries between 2017 and
2020. These additional aircraft will join its three
surviving Erieyes – four were delivered in 2009/2010,
but one was destroyed in a Taliban attack while sitting
on the tarmac in August 2012. Another two were
damaged but repaired. Pakistan’s Erieyes are fitted
with the PS-890 Erieye multi-mode pulse-Doppler
radar, which can detect and track targets over sea and
land at ranges of between 300 and 450 km.
In addition to the Erieyes, Pakistan also has four
Shaanxi Z DK-03s in service, delivered from China
between 2011 and 2014. These are based on China’s
Y-8F600/KJ-200 turboprop, but modified to meet
Pakistan’s requirements, and fitted with a rotating
AESA radar and ESM sensors. They were officially
commissioned into service in February 2015 and
together with the Erieyes greatly assist in improving
Pakistan’s radar coverage.
The introduction of the Boeing 737-700 Wedgetail
(E-7A) AEW aircraft into Royal Australian Air Force
(RAAF) service gave it a new capability covering not
just airborne early warning and control but ISR as well.
However, the Wedgetail story has not been a smooth
one. Deliveries, between November 2009 and June
2012, were three years late, and the project suffered
from technical problems with the software and radar.
Initial operational capability for Australia’s six aircraft
was in November 2012 - full operational capability was
only reached in May 2015.
After teething troubles, the Wedgetail has proved
itself well during numerous exercises, such as in
Guam, Canada and the United States, and in combat
operations. It has been deployed in the Middle East
since September 2014, coordinating coalition aircraft
in conducting strikes against Islamic State targets.
The type has performed well in the Middle East on
Operation Okra– apparently US strike aircraft delay or
plan missions to coincide with Wedgetail flights.
Australia’s Wedgetails feature Northrop Grumman’s
Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar,
using three arrays to give 360 degree coverage out
to more than 400 km (320 km for aerial targets and
240 km for boat-sized surface contacts, but range is
increased if power is focused in a single direction).
The radar can track over a thousand sea and air
targets simultaneously and handle 24 simultaneous
interceptions. The onboard electronic support
measures systems have a range of up to 850 km.
After Australia, South Korea became the second
regional nation to acquire the 737-700 AEW aircraft,
ordering four Peace Eye systems in 2006, which
were delivered between August 2011 and October
2012. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) performed
modification and testing of three of the four aircraft.
In October last year it emerged that South Korea will
acquire another two Peace Eyes, which will ensure
adequate aerial coverage of the Korean peninsula and
parts of Japan and China. These will join the country’s
Peace Pioneer signals intelligence, Peace Krypton
radar surveillance and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft.
When the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF)
began receiving its first E-767 AEW aircraft in March
1998 it represented a major shift in the region,
as that country was the first Asia-Pacific nation to
acquire such a capable aircraft. These mount the E-3
Sentry’s Northrop Grumman AN/APY-2 radar on a
Boeing 767 airframe. The radar gives 360-degree
coverage out to a range of more than 375 km. In
A C295 AEW aircraft (Airbus photo)
22/06/2017 1:14 PM
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