Defense contract would be largest in Israel's history; first plane from 2004 order to be delivered Sunday.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and India are in the advanced stages of talks regarding New Delhi's interest in purchasing three new Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) from Israel, in what could turn into the largest defense contract in the country's history.
On Sunday, and after a five-year delay, Israel will deliver the first of three AWACS ordered by India in 2004 for $1.1 billion. The plane is scheduled to take off from Ben-Gurion Airport in the afternoon. The remaining two planes are scheduled to reach India in 2010.
The Phalcon (phased array L-band conformal radar) was designed and manufactured by Elta, a subsidiary of IAI. It includes radar, electronic intelligence systems and communication equipment. The company has already sold a similar system to Chile's air force.
The Phalcon will enhance India's ability to detect aerial threats and serve as a platform for directing combat jets to targets. It is an all-weather system capable of tracking 60 targets simultaneously and can operate to a range of up to 400 km.
Officials said that the Indian Defense Ministry was currently holding internal debates over the possibility of purchasing three additional aircraft. India has also expressed interest in the Eitam, an intelligence-gathering plane also developed by IAI.
A new Phalcon deal with India would involve planes with the same configuration as those purchased in the 2004 order and would include a radar and electronic intelligence system designed and manufactured by Elta Systems Group installed in an Ilyushin-76 aircraft, which would be supplied by Russia. However, IAI is reportedly asking 30 percent more money for another three aircraft.
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