First flight of Indian AEW&CS EMB 145 in Brazil on December 6, 2011. (Click to view at higher resolution)
Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), DRDO is developing a AEW&C System comprising of an indigenous radar and control system mounted on a EMB-145I aircraft under a Rs.1,800-crore effort. The system will augment the Phalcon AWACs being procured by the IAF
Based on the proven Embraer ERJ 145 regional jet, the aircraft being supplied to India features an in-flight refueling system, SATCOM capability, a significant increase in electrical and cooling capacities, and a comprehensive set of aerodynamic and structural changes. These improvements will allow the installation of the advanced electronic systems currently being developed by CABS.
Under a $210 million deal signed with Embraer in summer 2008, the Brazilian company will supply India 3 EMB-145s with the system mounted on them.
The choice of Embraer as the platform was made by the IAF.
The Hindu reported on November 1, 2010 that DRDO has received sanction for developing six more systems, costing Rs.10,000 crore. The aircraft on which the additional systems are to be mounted has not yet been finalized.
Embraer will modify the EMB-145 for use as a AEW&CS platform by mounting a dorsal radar antenna unit on top of the fuselage. The company will also adapt the jet for in-flight refueling.
The jets being supplied to India will feature better electrical generation and cooling systems than similar ERJ-145-based AEW&C platforms. The new electrical generation system will feature a second auxiliary power unit for the mission suite;
The modified regional airliner will have a service ceiling of 35,000ft (10,700m) and a radar operational altitude of 25,000ft.
The system works with 5 operators and allows for upto 7 crew members to be resting at a time.
The primary sensor on the aircraft will be an S-band Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with two planar arrays mounted on the dorsal antenna unit.
The radar, which will be capable of performing air and sea surveillance, is being developed based on design and technology supplied by ELTA.
The dorsal antenna called Active Antenna Array Unit (AAAU) is made by CABS, while the AESA radar, which is the processor part of the AAAU, is made by the LRDE.
The dorsal unit measures 10m x 1m x 0.5 m and weighs 1.6 tons. [DRDO Press Release]
The EMB-145 can carry a max of four tons, the AAAU alone weighs 1.6 tonnes. It is mounted on the fuselage without affecting the aircraft's structure and stability.
The AAAU is designed not to get detached in the eventuality of the aircraft crashing. It is bolted to the aircraft using just four bolts that can bear a load 13.5 tons, nine times the weight of the AAAU. T Each bolt has a diameter of one inch and is made from titanium.
The system's radar will have a normal detection range of 250 km and an extended detection range of 375-km. It will be capable of tracking more than 500 targets simultaneously.
The system will provide 240 degrees (120 degrees on either side) of coverage that can be stretched to 300 degrees with some loss of range.
The radar scan covers 10-17 degrees in elevation.
The secondary radar will have an identification friend or foe function, while communication and electronic support measures will also enable the aircraft to detect and identify hostile emitters.
The CABS developed radar antenna looks similar to the one fitted on SAAB Erieye but is shorter and deeper as it includes modules for the IFF system along the bottom of the T/R array.
There are five operator work stations (OWS) in the fuselage of the aircraft. Besides All the five OWSs were developed in-house by CABS scientists.
The heart of the AEW&C system is Mission Systems Controller (MSC), which integrates data from all the sensors and facilitates airborne surveillance operations.
An electronics support measures (ESM) system managed from OWS-3 provides bearing and location of hostile emitters and analyses their characteristics.
The communication support measures (CSM) intercepts communication signals and analyses them.
AEW&CS operations are software intensive. CABS designed and developed the tactical software for the aircraft - consisting of multi sensor data fusion, threat evaluation, interception, guidance, recovery and battle management modules - based on the domain knowledge shared by the IAF.
CABS released the software as a product at a ceremony on May 23, 2012.
The software will be upgraded based on IAF requirements from time to time ensuring complete secrecy. [Press Release]
A self-protection suite will consist of missile approach and radar warning receivers, plus countermeasures dispensers.
AEW&CS model on display at Aero India 2009. Photo Copyright: Vijainder K Thakur
The CABS is looking for an experienced partner who will be responsible for integrating the Active Array Antenna Unit (AAAU), other antennas, trans receiver modules and various sub systems being developed by Indian defense laboratories onto the three Brazil manufactured EMB-145.
It has sent a request for proposal to six vendors - Israel's Elta, the European consortium EADS, France's Thales, Sweden's SAAB Erikson and the United State's Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
The vendors have time till the third week of January 2009 to submit their proposals.
The AEW&C will feature voice and data communication over UHF voice and data channels.
The system is designed to complement three Ilyushin Il-76s equipped with Elta Systems Phalcon radars and Indian navy Kamov Ka-31 radar picket helicopters. However, it is not clear if it will feature data links with the other two systems.
The first EMB-145 to be delivered to India under the contract ceremonially rolled out in Brazil on February 21, 2011.
The aircraft underwent intensive ground and flight tests in Brazil.
The first fully modified EMB-145i Aircraft made its maiden flight on December 6, 2011 at Embraer facilities at Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil with about 1000 Mission System Components provided by CABS, DRDO. These included the critical item – AESA (Active Electronic Scanning Antenna) Radar Antenna developed by DRDO and certified from ANAC, International FAR Certification Agency. at Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil.
“The flight is a major milestone towards realizing the dream of Indigenous Airborne Early Warning
and Control System, which will put India into a Select Club of Countries” said SA to RM congratulating
DRDO Scientists and M/s Embraer Engineers on this achievement.
A second EMB 145I fitted with a dummy AAAU (Active Antena Array Unit) made its maiden flight at 1930 IST on April 4, 2012 at the San Jose dos Campos in Brazil.
The aircraft will be delivered to CABS after flight certification in June 2012.
Embraer Defense and Security on August 16, 2012 delivered the first EMB 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft to India, in a ceremony held at Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil. [Press Release]
The aircraft has completed initial ground and flight tests towards flight certification using a Dorsal Unit (DoU) fitted with dummy electronics supplied to Embraer by CABS, along with other electronics and equipment such as ECS, IFR, auxiliary power units, internal fuel tanks, SATCOMs and antennae.
Remaining certification tests will be done in India at IAF's Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) after CABS fits the actual AESA radar and other electronics that it has developed for aircraft.
Following their initial flights the EMB-145I aircraft will go through a flight certification test program, initially in Brazil than in India.
Flight tests in Brazil will be carried out Embraer with participation by IAF's Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), Brazil's Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil and India's CEMILAC.
The flight tests in Brazil will use a Dorsal Unit (DoU) fitted with dummy electronics supplied to Embraer by CABS, along with other electronics and equipment such as ECS, IFR, auxiliary power units, internal fuel tanks, SATCOMs and antennae.
Embraer will supply the two AEW&CS aircraft to India by June 2012.
DRDO will fit CABS developed actual AESA radar antenna in the dorsal units of these two aircraft.
DRDO will also equip the aircraft with operator workstations (five), avionics racks, rest crew seating, seats and cabling.
These systems are currently undergoing ground integration and evaluation at CABS (Centre for Airbourne Systems), Bangalore.
The fully configured aircraft will undergo Aircraft and Mission System flight trials at ASTE, Bangalore starting November 2012 and handed over to IAF by end 2013.
Three EMB-145I systems were planned to be delivered to the IAF by 2014.
The delivery of six additional systems ordered in October 2010 is to begin from 2015.
The IAF is looking to acquire an additional 20 such systems.
The development comes nine years after India's original indigenous AEW&C program came to a standstill after a Hawker Siddeley HS748 test bed with a prototype radar crashed. Several scientists who were integral to the program were killed in the accident, and India has been trying to resurrect the program since.