Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:15 UK

Indian air force gets Awacs plane

Indian air crew line up in front of the Awacs plane
India is the first country in South Asia to operate an Awacs aircraft

India has officially taken delivery of an Awacs early-warning surveillance aircraft, part of a $1bn (£600m) defence deal with Israel.

The plane, Russian-made but packed with Israeli radar, is expected to reinforce India's maritime security following the attacks on Mumbai last year.

Only a few non-Nato countries have Awacs and critics say it is a bad omen for the arms race in South Asia.

India has ordered another two AWACS as it upgrades its military capabilities.

The Ilyushin-76 - which arrived in India on Monday - gives India the capability to track hundreds of aircraft and potential threats at sea and on the ground, at considerable distances.

Air dominance

India is the first country in South Asia to own an Awacs (Airborne Warning and Control System) plane, popularly nicknamed the "eye in the sky". The second and third aircraft are expected to be handed over next year.

AK Antony walks in front of the Awacs plane
AK Antony (left) is concerned about the plane's late delivery

Analysts say the purchase, part of a 2004 deal involving India, Israel and Russia, is part of India's efforts to achieve air dominance over its rival, Pakistan. Russia and Israel are India's two largest military suppliers.

India's defence procurement is expected to rise to about $100bn over the next ten years.

Delhi recently signed contracts with Israel for medium range surface-to-air missiles, and with Russia for the design and development of fighter aircraft.

Other foreign defence companies, including those from the Americas, Europe and Asia, are also lining up to do business with India.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony, who attended the Awacs handing-over ceremony at Jamnagar air base, complained about the late delivery of defence equipment ordered by India from a number of countries.

He pointed out that the Awacs should have been delivered 18 months ago.

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Times of India AWACS arrive - 32 hrs ago
Calcutta Telegraph Antony warning on arms deadline - 38 hrs ago
The Hindu Aircraft with AWACS inducted into the Indian Air Force - 38 hrs ago
Xinhua News Agency Indian defense minister urges attainment of self reliance in national defense - 50 hrs ago

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