India's efforts to strengthen its air reconnaissance military assets and establish an advanced communication network will be hit due to further delays in delivery of key Israeli early warning systems.
The much-awaited PHALCON Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS)is about 15 months behind its original schedule of November 2007. There had been an initial delay till September 2008.
"The delivery of AWACS is likely to be delayed till February 2009. There have been some technical glitches that are reasons for the delay," IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal P V Naik told reporters here today.
AWACS, a major force multiplier for the IAF, is a vital link in the Air Force Net, a communication network that is key to the IAF's dreams of emerging as a network-centric force.
India had signed a USD 1.1-billion deal in March 2004 for three AWACS from Israeli Aerospace Industries for mounting the systems on to three Russian-made IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft.
Though the IAF is putting pressure on the IAI to deliver the first of the AWACS before the year end, the nature of the glitches and the care taken by India in getting the best equipment available might push the delivery schedule to February next.
"It is like having the first baby. We are being more careful so that nothing gets wrong and we get the best. We do not want to leave anything to chance," Naik said.