The IAF has issued a request for information for the same to purchase the turbofan twin-engine aircraft with prolonged operations capability in heat, dust, and high humidity conditions as prevalent in India. The document shows five aircraft will be equipped with signal intelligence and communications jamming systems while others will only play signal intelligence role. The IAF will operate the planes and their mission will be supervised by the country's principal technical intelligence unit NTRO.
As the aircraft will be deployed near the border, the IAF demands good maneuverability aircraft to bypass threats including good low-speed maneuverability for a safe getaway. According to the document, the aircraft will have the capacity to provide work stations for at least 10 passengers.
"The aircraft should have a baggage compartment with a minimum capacity of 3.25 cu meters by volume and 1000 kg of weight," it added. The aircraft will be able to fly nonstop for minimum eight hours with a range of 4000 nautical miles or more.
The global tender is expected to be issued in the second quarter of 2018 with the tentative delivery set 24 months from the effective date of contract. An earlier bid of 2012 for the same kind of aircraft was not reached at tender level.
"The aircraft should be of proven design and be capable of operation by aircrew complement of just two pilots. The aircraft must be certified for operations from airfields up to an elevation of 3300 meters in signal intelligence and communication jamming roles, to be operated by the user in both roles together, with the respective payloads, and a minimum of 50% fuel carriage. The aircraft should have an internal start capability up to —40°C and +30°C," RFI issued by IAF reads.
Aircraft manufacturers will have to provide airborne signal intelligence system capable of monitoring surveillance, acquisition, early warning, tracking, missile guidance, airborne, shipborne and recording of voice and data transmission with decoding/demodulation capability in the range of better than 400 kilometers with a 360-degree azimuth coverage. The IAF seeks product support for a period of 40 years or more for the aircraft and 20 years or more for SIGINT and COMJAM equipment. Currently, IAF operates Embraer EMB-145 and Boeing 737 for these roles.