Does the Indian Air Force use spy planes?

India do uses Spy Planes but they come under R&AW Aviation Research Center rather than Indian Air Force.

The Aviation Research Centre (ARC) is a part of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (Special Requirements) India. The first head of the ARC was R. N. Kao, the founding chief of R&AW. Over the years the ARC has grown into a large operation and flies a large and varied fleet that include high-flying Mach 3 capable MIG-25.

In 1971, R.N. Kao, director-founder of the RAW, had persuaded the Government to set up the Aviation Research Centre (ARC). The ARC’s mandate was aerial reconnaissance and replaced the Indian Air Force’s former reconnaissance aircraft and by the mid-70s. R&AW, through the ARC, had high quality aerial pictures of the installations along the Chinese and Pakistani borders.

A. Bombardier Global 5000 :

Two highly-modified special mission Bombardier Global 5000 business jets are now in service with India’s Aviation Research Centre (ARC), which is part of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, under the control of the Cabinet Secretariat.

The Global 5000s incorporate various multi-mission airborne reconnaissance and surveillance systems, including electro-optical and synthetic aperture radars. Their multi-mission airborne reconnaissance and surveillance systems will be used on missions along India’s borders with China and Pakistan. It is reported that their new equipment will be able to collect electronic and ground intelligence up to 110 miles (180km) inside neighbouring countries’ borders.

They were used for SIGINT and ELINT missions and are fitted with EL/I-3001 Airborne Integrated Signal Intelligence System (AISIS) along with a Synthetic Aperture Radar Antenna for ground scanning based on IAI EL/M-2060 pod ( upto a radius of 400 kilometres ) while EL/M-2055 pod is used for Target Identification on Ground.

It also Equipped with MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System). ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) Suites. Ground Surveillance Equipments and SATCOM (Satellite Communication).The Entire System based on the Bombardier BD-700-1A11 Global 5000 Plane and Custom Modified in Israel

It’s designed to perform long-range, high-endurance missions thus providing tactical and strategic intelligence. The system comprises ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and COMINT (Communications Intelligence) sensors to search, intercept, measure, locate, analyze, classify and monitor communication and radar transmissions.

B. Boeing 707-337C :

Aviation Research Centre (ARC) the airborne wing of R&AW used to operate two Boeing 707-337C SIGINT platform in its inventory. They used the aircraft as a Strategic Surveillance Airborne System (SASS) to look deep into the enemy’s territory and gather intelligence.

ARC received two ex-Air India Boeing 707s in May 1987. The 707 sports IAF roundel on the top side of the aft fuselage and the fin flash – a rare illustration of this type in IAF colors. Due to the CIA’s involvement in the establishment of the ARC in 1962, they were equipped with a US mission suite by then-US contractor E-Systems which has since then been subsumed by Raytheon. The exact details of the systems installed on the aircraft were never revealed. They were deployed on ARC’s secret base in Charbatiya, Orissa which was also the location for CIA’s U2 flights during the 60’s.

The B-707s were extensively used during the Kargil conflict for ELINT operations. These aircrafts played an instrumental role in identifying enemy positions in the mountains and intercepting/ jamming enemy communications while flying at high altitudes.

One of the aircraft was upgraded in Israel after 2006. It’s characterized by the ‘cheek’ antenna fairings just behind the cockpit.

Both B-707s are currently parked at the Palam Air Force Base, Delhi gathering dust. These aircrafts are still classified, hence the personnel who operated them are prohibited from revealing details about them even now.

C. Mig-25 :

MiG-25RB/RUs was used by Indian Air Force for ELINT and SIGINT Operations sometimes in Pakistan Airspace and Chinese Airspace also. They are retired now though they have a glorious past and were flown by some of the best Indian Air Force pilots breaking the sound barrier many a times. Mig-25 were instrumental for Indian Establishment to gather precious intel about Strategic assets by flying undetected in enemy airspace.

MiG 25R that served the IAF had a clear significant purpose ‘ Strategic Reconnaissance’. Back in the 80’s satellite reconnaissance was not an Indian affair and MiG 25R was perhaps the only option. Now Indian security establishment has options of high resolution satellite imagery through constellation of indigenous satellites

D. Gulfstream G100 :

India acquired some 7 Gulfstream G100 which are used for PHOTOINT missions through its Long Range Oblique Photography (LOROP) for Aerial Reconnaissance and a passive SIGINT for Maritime Reconnaissance. It is not know how many of these aircrafts are used for Intelligence gathering means though public sources state only two : L3467 (C/N 148) and L3458 (C/N 126).

Apart from this Indian Air Force also operates IAI Heron drones for intelligence gathering and recon measures which were used in 2016 PoK Surgical Strikes to gain an active intel on the terror launch pads in PoK.

ARC today boasts of having fixed-wing transport aircraft like Russian IL-76s and AN-32s. It also has General Dynamics Gulfstream III and Global 5000 jets. The helicopter inventory comprises Russian Mil Mi-17s and a mix of locally built Cheetahs (modified French Alouette IIs) and Chetaks (Alouette IIIs). ARC is also believed to be the first wing of Indian intelligence agencies to induct the indigenously built ‘Pilotless Target Aircraft’ (PTA) Lakshya. Lakshya is equipped with advanced support system to help it perform tactful aerial exploration in the battlefield, including target acquisition.Lakshya is a surface/ship launched high subsonic reusable aerial target system, remotely piloted from ground. It provides training to the gun and missile crew and to air defence pilots for weapon engagement.




This Post is Copied From Quora Written By Harsh B. Mishra

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