Sunday, June 6, 2010

India’s EMB-145AEWs Near First Flight This Year


Aviation Week & Space Technology Jun 07 , 2010 , p. 38
Neelam Mathews
Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil

EMB-145 airborne early warning aircraft with Indian radars set for first flight this year
Printed headline: Readiness Is All

Embraer expects a first flight as early as December of the EMB‑145 airborne early warning system aircraft it is building for the Indian air force, utilizing an active array antenna from India’s Defense Research and Development Organization that mimics the Saab-2000 Erieye.

The DRDO’s contribution comes from the Active Array Antenna Unit of its Center for Airborne Systems and is to be integrated into the aircraft after certification. Deliveries are expected in 2011, says Embraer’s executive vice president for defense systems, Orlando Jose Ferreira Neto.

Work began on the three EMB-145s in March for an initial surveillance program. The three are expected to be sufficient to support two continuous day/night patrols, but only for a limited time. The Indian air force sees a need for 20 more to support full-time patrols. Aside from the two cockpit crew, the aircraft will carry up to eight mission specialists.

India’s approach takes a cue from the five EMB-145 airborne early warning and control aircraft the Brazilian air force flies in its R-99A program and three EMB-145 RS remote-sensing (R‑99B) variants. Both are used for surveys of the Amazon Basin.

They follow the Erieye approach of an active, flat-sided phased-array radar with an open systems architecture and commercial off-the-shelf hardware, rather than a revolving radome.

India’s decision to develop its own flat-panel antennas is politically tinged. Pakistan took delivery of its second Saab-2000 Erieye aircraft in late April. Political tensions between Pakistan and India prompted India to develop its own capability and readiness level rather than rely on a system that Pakistan has adopted.

Neto says India’s choice is well within Embraer’s development abilities. “For us, [India’s AEWs are] an update of platforms we have been selling successfully over the past 15 years,” he says. Still, India will get “a new system, a new platform,” he adds. “We’ll see what to do with it next, [after flight-testing and integration], because it is a state-of-the-art product.”

Neto expects Brazil and India to increase cooperation on development programs, noting that Embraer uses Indian engineering services and is expected to extend contracts for design, customer service and product development.

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