Israeli AWACs for India, on a Russian plane
Israeli AWACs for India, on a Russian planeIsrael News Photo: (file)

India is to take delivery of the first of three Israeli airborne early warning command and control (AWAC) systems on Sunday. With the integration of the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Phalcon system, the Indian air force will become the first in South Asia with advanced AWAC aircraft.

Considered the most advanced AWAC system, the Phalcon provides tactical surveillance of airborne and surface targets, and the gathering of signal intelligence. It is capable of tracking fighter planes, missiles and ground forces from up to 400 kilometers away, in any weather conditions. The system can identify all types of aircraft and was programmed to differentiate between friend and foe.

The delivery of the long-range, high-performance and multi-sensor Phalcon system is part of a 1.1 billion dollar deal signed between India, Russia and Israel in January 2004. As part of the delivery, IAI mounted the Phalcon systems on IL-76 aircraft supplied by Russia. Delivery of the last two Phalcon systems to India is slated for 2010.

Ahead of the negotiations for the sale of the Phalcons to India, Israel obtained a green light from the United States for the transfer of incorporated American technology. Israeli caution was borne of bitter experience, after a previous deal with China for the purchase of the Phalcon systems was nixed by the U.S. As a result, Israel-China relations suffered a harsh blow and Israel was forced to compensate China to the tune of 375 million dollars.

Over the past several years, Israel has sold more than 1 billion dollars worth of defense systems to India on an annual basis. This has made India Israel's leading customer in the global military supply market. Sales have included hardware and software, missiles for the Indian navy, as well as anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems based on the Green Pine radar.

“Green Pine”, designed by Israel Aerospace Industries, is a transportable radar system designed to track dozens of ballistic missiles from long-ranges, and in all weather conditions.

In addition to the Phalcon sale, Israel's military industry firm has announced it will establish five factories in India for the production of artillery shells. The project is said to be worth 240 million dollars. In other fields related to defense, Israel and India have collaborated in military and aerospace research and development. In January 2008, for example, the Israel Space Agency and India's Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched an Israeli-made spy satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in southeastern India.