India to buy balloon-mounted radars from Israel

January 20, 2009, New Delhi -- The Indian Navy is to buy two airborne radars from Israel to fill vital gaps in the country's coastal security system, a national daily reported on Tuesday.

According to the Indian Express, this is the first time the Navy will operate the balloon-mounted air defense radars that have a detection range of over 500 km and can track low-flying aircraft.

The Navy will shortly sign a deal to acquire from Israel two EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars, which are already in service with the air force. "While the acquisition was on the Navy's shopping list for a long time, it was accelerated by the government after the November terrorist attack in Mumbai," the paper said.

The new radars, mounted on a hot-air balloon secured to the ground, will improve the Navy's ability to detect enemy aircraft by providing 3-D coverage over a radius of 500 km.

"The biggest advantage of an Aerostat radar is that it is not fixed and can be moved to any location on the basis of the current threat perception. It will give us the flexibility to deploy it on a need basis," a senior naval officer said.

The IAF currently operates two Aerostat radars and has ordered four more from Israel to boost air defense cover. (RIA Novosti)

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