With the number of instances of Indian military planes being hit by birds — a serious flight safety hazard — increasing, the defence ministry is on the verge of placing an order for bird detection and monitoring radars for the IAF and the Navy.
These radars — 39 for the IAF and six for the Navy — are expected to keep flying safe for the environment and reduce bird-strike risk.
They are likely to cost upward of Rs. 250 crore.
A source said commercial bids for the proposed contract, pursued by four vendors, were opened last week clearing way for the deal to be signed soon. Military pilots have reported 504 bird hits between April 2011 and March 2014.
In addition, 47 bird strikes were recorded in the last four months alone, including one that led to a fatal crash.
Bird strikes mostly take place at low altitude, during takeoff and final approach, and inflict maximum damage on the engines. They account for 10% of accidents.
The radars being acquired are capable of real-time detection and tracking of bird activity, predicting their flight path, issuing bird-strike alerts to pilots and forecasting patterns to manage the avian risk.
The source said Bangalore-based Axis Aerospace and Technologies Limited is likely to be awarded the contract, as it is believed to be the lowest bidder.
Dutch firm Robin Radar Systems, OIS Advanced Technology and Data Patterns are also eyeing the deal.
The radars, to be mounted on trailers and deployed at airbases, can detect large birds (60 cm from beak to tail) at a distance of more than 11 km and small birds (21 cm) at six km. The detection ceiling of the radars is more than 10,000 feet.