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    Russia to deliver first AWACS plane to India 'soon'

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    Russia will deliver the first A-50 AWACS aircraft developed on the basis of Il-76MD military transport plane in the near future, a Russian aircraft industry official said on Thursday.

    BANGALORE (India), February 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will deliver the first A-50 AWACS aircraft developed on the basis of Il-76MD military transport plane in the near future, a Russian aircraft industry official said on Thursday.

    India ordered three A-50EI variants fitted with the Israeli-made Phalcon radar system in 2001. The first aircraft was scheduled to arrive in 2007-08 but has been delayed.

    "The AWACS version of Il-76 will be soon delivered to India," Viktor Livanov, vice-president of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, said at a news conference on the sidelines of the Aero India 2009 air show in India.

    In many aspects, the A-50 is comparable to the E-3 Sentry of the U.S. Air Force. It is fitted with an aerial refueling system and electronic warfare equipment, and can detect targets up to 400 km (250 miles) away.

    The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program until 2010 includes up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion.

    In addition to the Russian A-50 aircraft, India has recently purchased eight Boeing P-81 long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft from the United States, and signed a deal with Brazil to jointly integrate domestically developed AWACS systems onto three Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft to be later commissioned with the Indian air force.