More good news has trickled in before the year’s end. The two additional A-50I PHALCON platforms (each housing ELTA Systems’ ELW-2090 mission sensor/management suite) have been cleared for procurement at a cost of Rs.3,306 crore. The airframes will be supplied by Russia’s Ulyanovsk-based AVIASTAR JSC, while BERIEV Aircraft Company will customise the airframes for housing the mission sensor/management suites. Also cleared for procurement are six aerostat-mounted radars worth Rs.3,310 crore. Thus far, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, ThalesRaytheon, Israel Aerospace Industries/ELTA and Rosoboronexport State Corp have responded to the IAF’s global RFP for supplying both the aerostats and their on-board airspace surveillance radars. The IAF requires about 60 such radars, which can be deployed up to an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea level, have a surveillance envelope ranging from 10km to 35km, and are able to pick up airborne targets ranging from ground level to 30,000 feet.
RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems, on the other hand, will get a Rs.950 crore contract for supplying additional RecceLite pods (meant for Su-30MKIs) and their related ground-based imagery exploitation stations. While the former will be supplied directly by RAFAEL, the latter will be supplied via the MoD-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd.
Below is my favourite ATGM/PGM choice for arming the Army Aviation Corps’ Rudra helicopter-gunships, and possibly the LAH version of the IAF’s Light Combat Helicopter as well as Mi-17V-5s. The Hermes-A is a 2-in-1 solution aimed at neutralising both armoured vehicles and hardened bunkers/shelters on the battlefield. Developed by Russia’s Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau, the laser-guided Hermes-A can also be guided by LDPs like LITENING, and as such can also be launched by fixed-wing combat aircraft during battlespace interdiction missions.
INS Kolkata, the first of three Project 15A guided-missile destroyers (above) for the Indian Navy, is expected to be commissioned into service by the Indian Navy by next March.