CABS turns 21, scientists await praying plane

With the Indian defence R&D riddled with failed missions, CABS smartly chose to not draw attention and work quietly.

Published: 24th February 2012 04:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:02 PM   |  A+A-


Indian Air Force Beriev A-50 AEW&C (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

BANGALORE: The Centre for Air-Borne Systems (CABS) touched 21 silently with a story matching that of the proverbial Phoenix. With a morale virtually reduced to ground-zero following the tragic crash of their pet prototype plane Airborne Surveillance Platform (ASP) in 1999, today the CABS has made most of its detractors run for cover.

Thanks to the decision-makers at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) HQ in Delhi, the CABS got a fresh lease of life in 2004, when they bagged the prestigious Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system project.

With the Indian defence R&D sector often riddled with morale-stripping tales of failed and delayed missions, the CABS workforce smartly chose to lie low, fixing their focus on business hours.

In 2007 when its customer (the IAF) “finally” made up its mind (operational requirements) as to how intelligent its prying plane should be, the scientists began tweaking technology that would eventually put India into an elite club.

As this piece goes to print, Team CABS is at a striking distance from embedding smart systems onboard the Embraer-built EMB-145I AEW&C platform.

The first plane will make a touchdown in Bangalore in June.

When fully loaded, it would detect, identify and classify threats in the surveillance area and act as a command and control centre to support air defence operations.

Giving heads-up on the project to Express, CABS Director S Christopher said all the sub-systems for surveillance were getting ready.

“The primary radar, electronic support measure, communication support measure, line-of-sight and SATCOM data links have reached the final stages of development. They are now in the test and integration phase,” Christopher said.

He said the lab was gearing up for a formal Raising Day event soon.

Through this programme, the CABS has gifted India rare technologies “The core competence is generated in the field of Mark XII SSR systems, tactical software for network-centric operations and in design-development of complex avionics systems. A few of the building block, technologies and patents indigenously-realised can be used for several spin-offs and exports,” said G Elangovan, DRDO Chief Controller (R&D), Avionics.

Facilities established for the AEW&C project like the Planar Near Field Measurement (PNFM), System Test and Integration Rig (STIR), EMI/EMC Test Laboratory, Lightning Test Facility (LTF), Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT), Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HASS) chamber and the Flight Test Centre could aid CABS’s future prime prying projects.

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