India To Open Competition for New Aerostats

NEW DELHI – India, which bought three radar-equipped aerostats from Rafael in 2005, has thrown open the competition for a new batch of three to the global market.

Last month, Indian Air Force officials asked the Defence Ministry to prepare a request for information, which is to be issued in the next two to three months to BAE Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rosoboronexport and Thales, ministry sources said. The aerostats must be able to carry a payload of 2,400 kilograms to 15,000 feet for 28 days at a stretch, including radars that can spot aircraft and missiles up to 30,000 feet and out to 300 kilometers.
* Asia & Pacific Rim
* Air Warfare

The Air Force intends to integrate the aerostat radars with the three Airborne Warning and Control System AWACS being purchased from Israel.

The balloon-borne radars can virtually act as AWACS themselves, an Air Force official said.

India has deployed its three aerostats along the Pakistani border in the state of Punjab.

The country eventually seeks to own 13, the Air Force official, said.

The payload would consist of air and surface surveillance radars, electronic intelligence and communication intelligence gear, and V/UHF radio telephony equipment and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system.

The Navy also wants to buy aerostats for coastal security.

The new batch will be bought at a competitive price, said analyst Mahindra Singh.