July 8, 2012

India's Phalcon AEW&C/AWACS on the IL-76

India's Phalcon AEW&C and AWACS on the Russian built IL-76 transport platform.

First posted Sunday, May 17, 2009

The IAI EL/M-2075 Phalcon is an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) radar system developed by Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel. Its main objective is to provide intelligence to maintain air superiority and conduct surveillance including a means to track incoming missiles and look deep into neighbouring countries without violating their air space.

Phalcon provides 360 degree coverage. This allows it to track high maneuvering targets and low flying objects from hundreds of kilometers away, under all weather conditions, in both day and night.

Sale to India

- In March 2004, Israel and India signed a US$1.1 billion deal - according to which IAI would deliver the Indian Air Force three Phalcon AEW&C radar systems.
- India signed a separate deal with Russia's Ilyushin Corporation to supply the three Il-76 A-50s airframes for an additional US $500 million.
- In November 2007, Indian defense officials said that there were significant delays in the supply of the Il-76 airframes postponing the induction of the radar to 2009-10.
- In June 2008, media reports suggested that India and Israel were about to sign a deal for three additional Phalcon radars (carried by Il-76s].
- India is due to get its first Il-76 mounted AWACS system on May 18th 2009 with another two to follow sometime in 2010. It will probably be based in Agra. India does need the two other AWACS which, if things go as planned, will be flying in Indian airspace by 2011.
- all three Phalcons will be networked to a dedicated Military Satellite due to be deployed by mid 2010. The new satellite is intended to relay the pictures to the IAF's Integrated Air Command and Control System and then uplink to the Phalcons and other platforms for further survillance, cordination and attack if need be.

Phalcon has already been fitted to aircraft for three countries:
- Israel 3 using Gulfstream G550 Eitam as its platform
- Chile with the 707, and
- India wit 3 on Ilyushin Il-76 almost ready, perhaps 3 more on order

Singapore has 4 Gulfstream G550 on order.

System - The Phalcon uses the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) an active phased array radar. This radar consists of an array transmit/receive (T/R) modules that allows a beam to be electronically shifted, hence making mechanical rotation (seen in rotadomes) unnecessary. AESA radars have very short to instantaneous scanning rates, which makes them difficult to detect (ie "stealthy"). Because they are redirected electronically AESAs can come in many shapes (mounted on the an aircraft's fuselage (in the belly, nose, tail or sides) or on the top inside a small fixed dome) rather than being restricted to a circular rotational mount. Phalcon has a target acquisition capability close to 250km.

Note that the NATO E-3 AWACs and Russian Mainstay have rotating radomes for their pulse doppler radars. In the case of India's Phalcon Il-76 it has a three faced fixed AESA array, hence the radome itself doesn't rotate. The radome is retained for its aerodynamic design.

Information has come fon one network use by India "[the IL-76 mounted Phalcon] is primarily destined in a super-tactical/ operational role. This is because (and I wonder why most people forget this), the Su-30 [see Su-30 Avionics reference] itself plays the role of a mini-AWACS.

The grid, therefore, is something like this. Imagine a concentric circle. At the center of the circle, you have the IL-76 AWACS, at the periphery, you have not more than 3 SU-30s in an AWACS role. These SU-30's provide the tactical early warning, which is relayed to the IL-76, which then combines the data with its long-range sensors and pushes the data out to the air-defence squadron."

Platforms - Phalcon can probably be fitted to most mid to large passenger style jets, including the Boeing range, Il-76, Gulfstream G550, presumably the Airbus range and Nimrods etc. Under a contract signed with Chile in 1989, the first Phalcon system to be installed was fitted to a former LanChile Boeing 707, and was first flown in 1993. In May 1994 the aircraft was delivered to the Chilean Air Force, where it is known as the Condor.

Operational history - The Israeli Air Force has purchased 3 Gulfstream G550 aircraft to serve as the new IDF platform for the Phalcon system. The system is called Eitam. Extensive modifications made to the Gulfstream's fuselage, such as the addition of protruding composite radomes, are intended to allow for the housing of the radar arrays. In 2007, 4 similar G550-Phalcon aircraft were also purchased by the Republic of Singapore Air Force, to eventually replace its ageing E-2C Hawkeyes. All 4 G550s are expected to be in-service by 2010.

China's purchase of the Phalcon system (to be fitted to Il-76s) in 2000 was blocked at a late stage due to pressure from the United States on Israel not to complete delivery to China. The US would have argued that many of Phalcon's component technologies were originally of US origin and could not be cleared for export to China.

While China did not receive Phalcon Chinese technicians would have already thoroughly examined the Phalcon system during the evaluation and partial purchase phases. China would therefore know a great deal about Phalcon technology and network operations. Perhaps this examination assisted China to rapidly develop the KongJing-2000 Airborne Warning & Control System instead. This also uses the Il-76 as its platform.
India's strategy of shopping around between the Western and Russian blocs has clearly payed dividends - in the aviation area - though less so in the naval arena (Gorshkov, Akulas etc).




Phased array radars can come in many shapes because they are redirected electronically rather than driven around a standard field (like a pulse doppler radar)mechanically.

Note that the NATO E-3 AWACs and Russian Mainstay have rotating radomes for their pulse dopplers.

In the case of Phalcon Il-76 and China's KongJing-2000 the phased array radars are steerable within the radome (a convenient aerodynamic shape) but the radome itself doesn't rotate.

On Boeing 737 instead of the proven Gulfstream G550?

I'd say the weight of the MESA radar-electonics suite for Wedgetail aka Boeing 737 AEW&C http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW%26C was too great for the G550 to lift. The Boeing 737 AEW&C is almost 3 times heavier.

Also more work stations in the 737 would be needed to get maximum benefit out of the radar.

Also Boeing wants to stay in military "airliner" busines, post 707 so would have put heavy pressure on the US Government, Australia and the radar builder (Northrop Grumman) to campaign for a 737 solution.

I'll put your orbital coverage diagram on the RISAT-2 post.

I meant the Phalcon Gulfstream 550 solution would be cheaper than the B-737 Wedgetail. As you point out, the American solution is aimed at selling the airliner, and is therefore, much more expensive. The Phalcon solution appears to be cheaper and is a proven package. The Wedgetail B-737 solution hasn't been deployed yet from what I can tell, so it's unproven. I must be an abberation. I believe in the best solution, not necessarily the solution that makes a company the most money which may be the American definition of what a "best" solution is.

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Yes the Wedgetail 737 AEW&C project may bring one of the four 737 on order up to a 90% capability ceiling in 2010 and the minimum 3 units (to form a working network by) 2012. Still only 90% of projected capability.

90% capability may well equate to what Phalcon can do.

So if we'd ordered Phalcon we may well have had four Phalcon 737's becoming operational this year.

Meanwhile Australia appears to be about to order 50 to 100 untested F-35s. Australia's ANZUS Treaty relations with the US often makes us an early, guinea pig customer, extending credit to US arms giants many years ahead of postponed delivery. Taxpayers money is constantly offered easily and too early.

"Tried and tested" and "off the shelf" is rarely in the vocabulary of our air force officers, defence aquisitions people or politicians bedazzled by Washington.

The one good acquisition lately has been Australia's purchase of 24 Super Hornets. Twelve of which may come out as EW "Growlers" (F/A-18G) something India should also consider in any airstrikes on Pakistan.

Well then...India's Phalcon is set to arrive next week...details at this link:


Apparently will be based in Agra., Has a range of 800kms with a target acquisition capability close to 250. India does need the two other AWACS which, if things go as planned, will be flying in Indian airspace by 2011.