An airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system is an airborne radar picket system designed to detect aircraft, ships, and vehicles at long ranges and perform command and control of the battlespace in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes. AEW&C units are also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Air Traffic Controller given military command over other forces. When used at altitude, the radar on the aircraft allows the operators to detect and track targets and distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft much farther away than a similar ground-based radar. Like a ground-based radar, it can be detected by opposing forces, but because of its mobility, it is much less vulnerable to counter-attacks.
China Currently has 20 such airborne warning system, and Pakistan has eight. Indian Air Force has only 3 such air born warning systems that were bought from Israel in 2004. According to defence expert, the Indian air force does not have the capability to cover the entire aerospace of Indian during a war.
In 1994, the Indian government decide to develop such air born early warning system but the program was canceled after a fatal crash. Again in 2004, the Indian government decided to restart the program to develop AEW&C and an amount of 1800 crore was released. The Responsibility of the development of aircraft was given to CABS (center for the air-born system) Bangalore and the deadline for the project was set to the year 2011.
However, the development program is still going on and currently, it is in testing mode. Aircraft is not fully handed over to Indian airforce
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