Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) plans to unveil its innovative Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) at an aeronautics conference in Tel Aviv today.
NASA Langley chief scientist Dr. Dennis Bushnell will address the conference, organized in conjunction with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, on the topic of the future of civilian aeronautics.
IAI is a world leader in Airborne Early Warning (AEW) systems and has already sold 10 planes to undisclosed countries, said Jehezkel Grizim, general manager of IAI subsidiary Elta Systems Group. Two of the planes have been sold to the Israeli air force.
While AWACS was widely known for its large dome atop a plane's roof, IAI, Grizim said, uses new radar technology that replaces the dome with a raylike radar system. The new system encircles the aircraft and covers a far more extensive area than the older AWACS models, he said.
"We are the only ones that have developed radar technology that circles the plane 360 degrees without any interference," Grizim claimed.
In the past, AWACS radar systems - which were designed to capture images of enemy ground and air forces from a distance - did not succeed in spotting enemy aircraft from the plane's rear since the tail blocked the dome radar's view. The older AWACS systems were installed in Israeli-made Gulfstream jets - known for their quiet flight and low-fuel costs.
"What we have essentially done is move from outdated to new technology," Grizim said. "It is kind of like switching a typewriter with a laptop computer."
In addition to its use in military operations, Grizim said, AWACS has also been used to lead the pope's entourage whenever he flew abroad, as well as to secure airspace over this year's Winter Olympics in Italy.
Gulfstream vice president Dr. Dan Nale will also speak at the conference about the joint production with IAI of the new G-150 high-class business jet.
The planes, which are assembled at the IAI plant near Ben-Gurion Airport, are flown to Gulfstream headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, where they are outfitted with final touches, including their interior.
The G-150 is scheduled to hit the market this summer. Gulfstream has already sold 50 planes to NetJets Inc., a plane leasing company owned by billionaire Warren Buffett.