The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Phalcon hope as Sharon packs

New Delhi, Sept. 4: Israelís Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is to visit India from Sunday, is likely to carry with him happy tidings of a big gift for the Indian Air Force ó the Phalcon airborne early warning and control system.

The Phalcon will be an Indian eye over Pakistani skies, capable of watching and monitoring movement of aircraft and missiles.

In the current situation of nuclear rivalry in South Asia, this would give New Delhi a big advantage over Islamabadís military capability.

Prime Minister Sharonís delegation to India will include chief executives and representatives of Israeli military equipment manufacturers such as Israel Aircraft Industries, makers of the Phalcon, and ELTA, its developer.

India and Israel have already agreed in principle to negotiate the $1 billion deal for three Phalcon systems. Tel Aviv has been keen to intensify its military ties with New Delhi but both countries keep mutual defence ties quiet, often not announcing officially what is already public knowledge.

Only yesterday, the Cabinet Committee on Security, while giving the green signal for the British AJT, had also okayed a $105 million purchase of seven Electronic Warfare System suites for frontline naval vessels.

It was the US that was the stumbling block in the Phalcon deal till it gave the nod in June this year.

The US had asked Israel to hold back the transaction when the Indian militaryís Operation Parakram was is danger of snowballing into a war with Pakistan in 2002.

The Indian Air Force has asked for the IAI Phalcon 707s to be mounted on Russian-origin IL-76 transporters.

The Phalcon is designed to play the role of a super command and control centre in wartime when it will feed intelligence needed to maintain air superiority. The Phalcon has been developed and produced by ELTA. It uses a phased array electronic scanning system.

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