The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security has approved a INR110 billion rupee (USD1.5 billion) programme to build six airborne early warning and command (AEW&C) aircraft based on A319-100s operated by Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l).

While the government committee's approval is the most significant step in the process, the technical steps related to the acquisition and conversion of the aircraft will be managed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which is expected to start issuing the appropriate tenders in the near future. The Indian cabinet hopes that as much touch labour as possible will be performed in the country and in-house by the DRDO, although it did not commit to converting the aircraft as a whole in India.

The plan was first announced in December 2020, although, at that time, it was not clear which Air India aircraft would be used.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Air India currently operates twenty-one A319-100s, which are 13.2 years old on average. 19 of them are owned by the carrier, with one each leased from Zephyrus Aviation Capital and Avolon.

It is not clear whether the order for the six A319s will lead to the scrapping of Indian Air Force's existing commitment for six A330s ordered by the DRDO from Airbus for conversion into AEW&C aircraft. The air force's existing surveillance fleet comprises three EMB-145SMs and one Il-76A-50EI.

During the same session, the cabinet approved the acquisition of fifty-six CN-295MWs transport turboprops, including 16 due to be delivered to India from Europe and 40 licence-built by Tata Corporation in the country. The aircraft will replace the IAF's ageing BAe 748s.