Procurement: October 14, 2003

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After several years of negotiations, Israel and Russia signed a $1.2 billion deal with India to supply three AWACs type aircraft. Israeli radars and computers would be built into Russian IL-76 four engine jet transports. The Israelis call their system Phalcon and it is, in some respects, superior to the American AWACS. For example, Phalcon uses a conformal phased array radar (thousands of small radar transmitters are fitted underneath the aircraft). The phased array radar, in combination with the latest, most powerful computers, and other antennas for picking up a variety of signals, enables Phalcon to be more aware of what electronic equipment (airborne or on the ground) is operating up to 400 kilometers away. The phased array radar allows positions of aircraft on operator screens to be updated every 2-4 seconds, rather than every 20-40 seconds as is the case on the United States AWACS (which uses a rotating radar in a radome atop the aircraft.) The first Phalcon system was fitted on a Boeing 707, although somewhat limited versions could be put onto a C-130. On a larger aircraft, you can have more computers, and other electronics, as well as more human operators. But the major advantage of the Phalcon is that it is a more modern design. The AWACS is over twenty years old and has undergone upgrades to the original equipment. It will be 5-6 years before India receives the first of its Phalcon AWACs. The Israeli air force operates six Phalcon aircraft (using Boeing 707 airframes). 

 


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