This month SAAB has delivered three more SAAB 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft to Pakistan Airforce raising its fleet to Six. Read details: Link
Pakistan Air force operated 4 Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C along with one Saab 2000 in VIP configuration, In 2012, one of the four Erieye AEW&C was written-off, while two were seriously damaged. However, the two damaged aircraft were repaired at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and, in turn, resulted in PAC building depot-level maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.
Down to three aircraft, PAF decided to procure 3 more Saab 2000 aircraft which now takes the total strength of Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C to Six.
PAF also operates four Chinese made Shaanxi ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C)
As of now, After three new SAAB 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft induction, the PAF fleet contains 6 Erieyes in 3 Squadron and 4 ZDK-03s in Squadron 4 which makes total strength of its AWACS Aircraft fleet to 10, which is much bigger than AWACS fleet of aircraft operated by IAF which stands at only four.
IAF operates 3 Beriev A-50EI Phalcon AWACS along with One DRDO developed Netra AEW&CS.
IAF will be adding one more NETRA AEW&CS to its fleet soon but it is unclear if the third NETRA AEW&CS which will be used as a Testbed for bigger AWACS India program will ever join the fleet, since DRDO has been indicating that the third aircraft will be kept by DRDO for further testing or will be sold to friendly country in near future.
IAF plans to procure two more Beriev A-50EI Phalcon AWACS from Russia and Israel has been stuck at the price negotiation stage.
Under ” AWACS India”, IAF plans to procure Six DRDO designed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Radar system mounted on A330 platform but the deal is yet to be concluded and with further delays expected, IAF AWACS fleet of aircraft is unlikely to grow at a much faster rate than expected in the region.
IAF by 2025 plans to induct one NETRA AEW&CS along with Two Beriev A-50EI Phalcon AWACS which will still mean IAF will have combined AWACS fleet of only 7 aircraft when compared to 10 which will be in operational service of PAF.
IAF due to the larger size of its fighter fleet will require a minimum of 20 AWACS fleet of aircraft to fight a full-fledged two-front war with China and Pakistan, but the slow pace of decision making in Government of India and also IAF’s obsession with early-warning radar systems mounted on heavy-lift aircraft over mini-AWACS like NETRA, makes its AWACS fleet highly vulnerable against combined fleet of 40 AWACS fleet which both China and Pakistan operate at present.
PAF vs IAF Airborne Warning and Control System Comparison
PAF Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft
- SAAB 2000 Erieye AEW&C: No 3 Squadron of PAF operates 6 SAAB 2000 Erieye AEW&C aircraft. The Saab 2000 AEW&C airborne early warning and control aircraft is a variant of the Saab 2000 regional transport turboprop aircraft equipped with the spine-mounted Saab Systems Erieye PS-890 side-looking reconnaissance radar.
- Shaanxi ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle AEW&C: No 4 Squadron of PAF operates Shaanxi ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle AEW&C Aircraft. ZDK-03 is A variant designed specifically for export to the Pakistan Air Force. Consists of a Chinese AESA radar mounted on the Y-8F600 platform. The radar is reported to have a greater range than that of the PAF’s Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C radar and the aircraft incorporates open architecture electronics to make future upgrades easier to implement.
IAF Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft
- Beriev A-50: The Beriev A-50 is a Russian airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. Right now3 Beriev A-50EI Phalcon AWACS in service, RFP for 2 more sent to IAI for the EL/W-2090 AEW&C radar system to be mounted on the A-50. Aircraft are equipped With Aviadvigatel PS-90 A-76 engines, with Israeli EL/W-2090 radar. No. 50 Squadron of IAF stationed at Agra Air Force Station, Uttar Pradesh operate these Aircraft
- DRDO EMB-145 Netra AEW&CS: IAF operates 3 EMB-145-I to be fitted Indian w/LRDE developed AESA radar array, datalinks, IFF, RWR, MWR.