After 20 years, India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is set to spread its wings — deep into enemy territory.
The agency is to acquire two Bombardier jets packed with Israeli multi-mission airborne reconnaissance and surveillance systems that will multiply its capability along Pakistan and China borders.
The Bombardier 5000 aircraft, which will replace two 21-year-old Gulfstream jets, will daily collect electronic and ground intelligence 180 km inside the neighbours’ territories.
The jets are being uploaded with electronic intelligence collection packages in Israel and flight trials begin in July.
Fitted with synthetic aperture and electro-optical radars, the jets, expected to be pressed into service in the next two years, will be able to monitor strategic and military activity across the borders.
Last June, the cabinet committee on security quietly approved the $300m (Rs. 1,500 crore) deal with Israel’s ELTA, a leading defence electronics firm.
R&AW’s Aviation Research Centre has some 30 airborne intelligence collection platforms but they’re dated, with Boeing 707 and Gulfstream jets fitted with antique analogue radars.
While both Pakistan and China have airborne platforms fitted with electronic and communication collection capability, the new spy jets will be unmatched in the sub-continent.
The agency will be able to collect day-to-day ground intelligence as the jets will be provide real time data such as troop or armour movements for prompt reaction.
A Global 5000 can fly close to 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) non-stop at Mach 0.85 (907kmph) and can climb to 43,000 feet in 23 minutes.
With both China and Pakistan deploying missiles and building logistics aimed at India, the spy jets will help make the battlefield — from low intensity conflict in Kashmir to all out hostilities — more transparent with strategic (missile) alert capability.