At Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil on Feb. 21, Embraer unveiled the first of three EMB-145s built as platforms for India's indigenous airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system. Photos: Embraer
The AEW&C mission system, with its active-array radar, is under development by the Center for Air Borne Systems (CABS) in Bangalaru, part of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Although it looks similar to the Saab Erieye radar on Embraer's existing EMB-145 AEW&C, supplied to Brazil (top photo below), Greece and Mexico, the phased-array antenna mounted above the fuselage is shorter and deeper, and the supports much beefier.
DRDO and CABS officials at the unveiling say the antenna is deeper because the transmit/receive modules for the IFF are integrated into the antenna, running along the bottom of the array of transmit/receive modules for the radar.
Changes to the EMB-145 platform for the Indian program include installing an in-flight refueling probe, a new electrical system with a second APU just to power the radar and a new cooling system. The radome atop above the forward fuselage is for stacom and the fairings on the sides of the fuselage are for ESM antennas.
(The bump under the fuselage, between the gear, looks like a comms antenna but is in fact a skid to protect the extra internal fuel tanks in a wheels-up landing - it is fitted to Embarer's Legacy bizjet version of the ERJ-135.)
Plenty of India defense program run late, but DRDO director general V K Saraswat says the AEW&C program is on schedule. The radar is undergoing rooftop tests at CABS and the building blocks of the mission system are being tested in the lab, he says.
Embraer will flight-test the EMB-145 platform in Brazil, and is scheduled to deliver the first aircraft to India in August for integration of the mission system. The fully configured aircraft is planned to fly next year, says Saraswat.
Once development is complete, the three EMB-145 AEW&Cs are to be delivered to the Indian air force in 2014 to operate alongside its larger Beriev A-50 AEW&C platforms, which carry the Israeli Elta Phalcon phased-array radar.