On the inaugural day of the 2017 edition of the Aero India air show, the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) ceremonially handed over the first Netra, serial number KW3556, in initial operational configuration to the Indian Air Force.
Netra is an AEW&C aircraft based on the Embraer EMB145 regional jet, fitted with Indian mission systems, including two electronically scanned early warning radars (primary and auxiliary, one integrated into another), an electronic warfare system, command and control systems, electronic and signal intelligence equipment, and satellite communication equipment. System integration is coordinated by the DRDO at Bangalore and its subdivision, the Centre for Airborne Systems. In July 2008, India ordered three EMB145i aircraft from Embraer, modified to its needs; the first aircraft arrived at DRDO’s Bangalore facility on August 22, 2012. Embraer had already built AEW&C aircraft based on the EMB145 for Brazil, Mexico and Greece.
India’s platform differs from earlier versions, having additional systems fitted that include an air refuelling probe, more powerful electric generators and more efficient cooling devices.
Netra is the latest AEW&C aircraft in Indian Air Force service, after three Russian-built Il-76MD-90s with an Israeli ELW-2090 mission system were delivered between 2009 and 2011. A contract for two further Il-76 aircraft has been under negotiation for several years, and two Il-76 airframes have been waiting for the conversion at Beriev’s facility in Taganrog, Russia, for several years. In the future, the Indian Air Force intends to purchase six (possibly ten) large AEW&C aircraft based on the Airbus A330 platform fitted with an Indian mission system and a 10m (32ft 10in) radar dome mounted above the fuselage.