Saturday, May 4, 2013

Air Force wants surveillance aircraft with pax seats

Neelam Mathews
May 4, 2013

Neelam Mathews
May 4, 2013

With approval given by the defense procurement apex body, Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), the Indian Air Force is set to release a (repeat) Request for Proposal for nine aircraft along with systems for airborne Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Communications Jamming (COMJAM), ground survey and target towing within a month. 
An RFP released four years ago shortlisted Israel Aircraft Industries with an 8-seater G-200 and Embraer 145, both offering the Elta Airborne Integrated Signal Intelligence System (AISIS). Delays in the offset policy resulted in price escalation by the OEM, which was not accepted by the ministry of defense, leading to cancellation of the bid.
“Now five years later, the cost will be much higher given the changed specs and also a highly depreciated rupee,” a vendor says.
The new RFP requires a larger aircraft to provide for ten seating passengers in a cabin. IAI, if it participates, will likely offer a G-500. With the Saab 2000 no longer in production, and Indian rules not permitting import of over 15 year-old aircraft, Swedish Saab, that offered the Learjet in the first RFP, is now looking for a larger aircraft platform given that the Learjet “is too small for the requirement”, said Peter Erlingborn, Director Marketing, Saab India.
 Two of the nine aircraft will be dedicated for SIGINT role, while the remaining seven will be used by the army, navy and air force for aerial survey, target towing, COMJAM and flaring. IAF has also stipulated the aircraft must be certified for operations from airfields up to an elevation of 3300 m. with a minimum of 50% fuel carriage.
The target towing will use a very long cable for target practice. “Towing has its challenges in India with air-space that will need to shut down and bird hits, a major constraint. UAVs should be used instead, for training purposes,” a vendor said.
However, Erlingborn says the Saab system has been sold to Europe and elsewhere and works well with ground guns, in the air and for the navy that finds it difficult to practice otherwise, with its self-protection suites. The integration of the systems will be done in India with a local partner. 

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