IAI ELM-2060 Recce Pod
Since its formation in 1953 Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) has developed considerable expertise in developing airborne reconnaissance equipment, generally tailored to meet the specific requirements of the Israeli Air Force. Often to prevent the capabilities of the systems they employ becoming known by the belligerent Arab nations that surround Israel, they make little public comment on them and generally don’t offer them for sale. Sometimes the specialist equipment they deploy is American and this is only sold or loaned to Israel with specific limitations on the transfer of technology. However, in a global market with many competitors, the Israeli government and IAI know that to raise revenue and remain in business whenever possible IAI must now its technology offer for sale and one item they have recently sold is the EL/M-2060P reconnaissance pod.
The IAI EL/M-2060P is a high performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) reconnaissance system. The complete system consists of the SAR/GMTI and a C, X or Ku band data link mounted in a 590 kg pod that can be carried externally on a variety of fighter aircraft, together with a Ground Exploitation Station (GES). The EL/M-2060P is capable of producing images of near photographic quality in all weathers, day or night and transmitting the images in near real-time via the data link over a range of over 250 miles to the GES. The SAR/GMTI can operate in either STRIP Mode, for coverage of very large areas at stand-off ranges, or SPOT mode to obtain a high resolution image of an area of interest. The data is also recorded on-board allowing it to also be interpreted once the aircraft has landed. The GES can be installed in either a fixed or transportable location and is equipped with a variety of workstations to allow rapid data reporting and exploitation.
So far the only export customer that IAI have found for the EL/M-2060P is the Indian Air Force. In the summer of 2005 it was announced that the Indian Air Force had ordered a number of EL/M-2060 pods in a $150 million deal. The pod will be different from the version operated by the Israelis as it will also incorporate an electro/optical sensor provided by Elop. Exactly how many pods and associated ground stations have been acquired by India is unknown, however, when this system becomes operational on their Mirage and Su-27 aircraft it will provide the Indian Air Force with a huge leap in capability. However, India has also had very close defence links with Russia for many years and because the Russians would be very keen to get their hands of the very latest Israeli SAR/GMTI technology, I imagine the version of the EL/M-2060 exported to India will be rather less than ‘state-of-the-art’.