NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force is turning to domestic companies to build electronic warfare suites for its fleet of Russian Mi-17V-5 helicopters.
"We will submit a new proposal in the next three months to Ministry of Defence to seek project approval to source around 200 EW suites [that] cost around $100 million from domestic companies" a senior Air Force official said.
"Supply of complete set of EW suites appears to be beyond the capability of any single [Indian] company," said retired Air Force air marshal and defense analyst Daljit Singh.
However, the domestic companies will need to tie up with overseas original equipment manufacturers to build EW suites, said a senior MoD official, adding that the "MoD is hopeful that the domestic companies will be able to supply the suites for the [Russian] helicopters."
"There are a number of Indian companies currently carrying out research in manufacturing some EW components, but a tie-up with foreign Industries is inevitable," Singh said.
State enterprises Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, and private companies Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power SED, Mahindra Defence Systems, and Data Patterns are scouting to enter into EW market for this particular project.
The overseas companies likely to team up with the domestic companies to manufacture the suites include BAE Systems of the U.K., Saab of Sweden, Selex of Italy, Elbit of Israel, Thales of France, Terma of Denmark, and Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon of the United States.
"Locally made EW equipment are very crucial for the IAF as every weapon system employed in hostile environment would require a shield of self-protection, without which any Air Force would suffer unacceptable attrition," Singh said.
An Air Force official disclosed that the EW suites for the Mi-17V-5 helicopters will include radar warning receivers, missile approach warning systems and countermeasure dispensing systems. Additionally, some of the helos would also be integrated with laser warning receivers and directed infrared countermeasure systems.
Giving details of the EW suites, the Air Force official said the radar warning receivers would provide the capability to intercept, identify and prioritize multiple airborne and ground-based threats.
The missile approach warning systems would provide the capability to detect, identify, warn and prioritize air-to-air and ground-to-air threats to the pilot while the directed infrared countermeasure systems would counter threats in all bands of infrared and ultraviolet.
The Air Force currently has a fleet of about 150 Mi-17V-5 helicopters procured from Russia since 2008 in different phases. "The Mi-17V-5 makes up the backbone of the IAF's transport helicopter fleet," the Air Force official said.