IAF To Buy 4 Aerostat Radars To Boost Ground Surveillance


New Delhi: The IAF has been using two Israeli aerostat radars but there had been serious issues regarding their maintenance and operations. Looking to strengthen its air defence capability, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is on the lookout for new aerostat radars for low level surveillance. The IAF wants to source the radars from Indian vendors, said officials.

The acquisition for the specialized radars has been in the pipeline for sometime but it had failed to materialize earlier, sources said. A fresh Request for Information (RFI), which is the beginning of the acquisition process, has now been prepared for four aerostat radars.

The purchase will be under the new defence procurement rules, which lay stress on buying from Indian companies. The IAF has been using Israeli aerostat radars but there had been serious issues regarding their maintenance and operations. The two radars had cost over Rs 300 crore.

The fresh RFI says that responses were requested only from Indian manufacturers or authorised vendors. After ascertaining the availability of aerostat system in the Indian market, the actual bids would be invited sometime next year, officials. However, before that happens, the air force wants to reassure itself on issues like level of indigenization, delivery capability and maintenance support.

There had been a move to procure eight aerostat radars which are used for low level airborne ground surveillance. As per the specifications sought by the IAF, it should have an operating altitude of 15,000 feet.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2011 report had highlighted that the Israeli aerostats had developed technical difficulties resulting in an internal probe to fix responsibilities.

The aerostat balloons are mobile, static or even portable. Very few countries in the world use these radar carrying balloons which are meant to monitor low level aerial threats.

They are deployed close to the borders to keep an eye on the aerial activities. The lifespan of aerostats are generally 10 years. The IAF had indicated the requirement of at least eight aerostat systems.