India Seeks New Aircraft for Sigint Plus Other Roles

 - May 3, 2013, 11:09 AM
IAI-Elta will likely re-bid its airborne integrated signal intelligence system (Aisis), seen here on a Gulfstream G550 model, for a new Indian requirement. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

Within the next month, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will re-release a request for proposal (RFP) for nine aircraft to perform signals intelligence (Sigint), communications jamming (Comjam), ground survey and target towing roles. The previous RFP released four years ago shortlisted Embraer and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), both offering the IAI-Elta airborne integrated signal intelligence system (Aisis). But delays in defining India’s offset policy resulted in price escalation from the bidders, leading the Indian defense ministry to cancel that RFP.

The new RFP specifies a larger aircraft that can carry 10 passengers. The platforms bid previously were the Embraer EMB-145 and the Gulfstream G200 (by IAI). This time, IAI will likely offer a Gulfstream G550. Saab is also likely to bid again, having offered a Learjet platform previously. The Saab 2000 airliner is no longer in production, and since Indian rules do not allow the import of aircraft over 15 years old, the Swedish company is looking for an alternative larger platform, Peter Erlingborn, director of marketing for Saab India, told AIN. The IAF has also stipulated the aircraft must be certified for operations from airfields up to an elevation of 3,300 meters (10,827 feet) above sea level.

Two of the nine aircraft will be dedicated to Sigint, while the army, navy and air force will use the remaining seven for aerial survey, target towing and Comjam. The systems will be integrated in India with a local partner.

One vendor predicted to AIN that the cost to India of meeting this requirement will be much higher than previously, driven up by the change of specification and the significant depreciation of the rupee in the meantime.