Apart from standard profiles, the jamming/electronic countermeasure (ECM) systems on board need to be able to deceive adversaries by introducing false information into the enemy’s communications network and degrading enemy communications. The bidding sigint systems are required to consist of electronic support measures to intercept, identify, fingerprint and locate the source of electromagnetic emissions from radars, electronic countermeasures systems, IFF/SIFF (Identification Friend or Foe/Successor IFF) interrogators (1030 mhz), transponders (1090 mhz), Tactical air navigation/Distance Measuring Equipment interrogators signals (1025-1150 mhz) and communication signals.
These special-mission aircraft will complement AWACS and India’s indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System.
The nine aircraft are intended to come as substitutes to the modified Avros and now phased-out Canberra fleet — a first-generation bomber aircraft used by the IAF in the early 1950s for bombing missions and information-collection before being grounded in 2007.
As border skirmishes with arch-rival Pakistan and China are on the rise, India feels the need to urgently ramping up its surveillance and interception systems, despite a cut in its defense allocation.
The defense ministry was forced to trim its budget in the last fiscal year to 1.78 trillion rupees ($32.8 billion) from the original allocation of 1.93 trillion rupees due to sluggish growth in its economy in recent years.
Still, Defense Minister A.K. Antony last week made clear that a cut in the country’s defense budget will not halt IAF acquisition programs. India has announced several large IAF acquisition projects, including the more than $20 billion effort to buy 126 Dassault Rafales under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft project, and a program to buy Apache and Chinook helicopters from Boeing.
“The government is committed to the modernization of the IAF and funds are not a problem to ensure that it remains at the forefront of technology,” Antony says.
The government has allocated 2.03 trillion rupees for defense in the current fiscal year, a modest hike of just more than 5% over the last year.