In recent years India has been shifting toward aircraft that would give it the ability to patrol and act at extended ranges. In January 2004, India and Israel signed a $1.1 billion contract for 3 Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, as part of a $1.5 billion tripartite agreement with Russia. With the arrival of its first IL-76 Phalcon, India joined the global ranks of AWACS operators. The aircraft will monitor huge swathes of Indian airspace, intercept communications and log radar frequencies, add some ground surveillance, and help command IAF responses.
At the same time, India moved to implement AWACS capabilities on a 2nd, smaller, platform, in order to provide broader coverage. The goal there is to field a Tier 2 platform based on Embraer’s ERJ-145 jet, and Indian radar and electronics, allowing India to join the global ranks of AWACS designers. Just to make things interesting, their arch-rival Pakistan offers a contrasting case study, with quicker fielding of off-the shelf buys from China (Y-8 based ZDK-03) and Sweden (Saab 2000 Erieye).