The chief of Indian foreign intelligence agency, Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), Samant Kumar Goel visited Nepal on Wednesday for a two-day unofficial trip, along with 9 more members of the organization.
It is an unofficial as well as “surprise” visit because no notifications or announcements were made earlier. The news was revealed only after his aircraft landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. The intel chief also met with Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
However, what interests us more is, that he reportedly arrived on board a special Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft.
This image was tweeted by an Indian twitter handle @TheWolfpackIN, and TFV cannot verify the image.
Global 5000 is a heavily modified variant of Bombardier Global Express aircraft and is one of the special mission platforms in service with the Indian aviation arm. It is under operations of Aviation Research Centre (ARC), the aviation wing of R&AW, and is utilized as a “spy” plane due to the incorporation of powerful reconnaissance and communication systems (which is easy to identify due to external appearance).
It’s designed to perform long-range, high-endurance missions and 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. Reportedly, Indian forces operate two of such aircraft, which were modified with the systems in Israel.
It is equipped with EL/I-3001 Airborne Integrated Signal Intelligence System (AISIS) along with a EL/M-2060 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Antenna for ground scanning within a range upto 180-200 kilometres. EL/M-2055 pod is also integrated for ground Target Identification.
What’s even more interesting is, the visit comes during China’s illegal occupation of several Nepali villages, due to which the Oli government is facing severe backlash in its country. If true, the aircraft’s presence in Kathmandu could enable the Indian intelligence agencies to have an eye on PLA activities, considering the aircraft’s surveillance range and roughly 200 kilometer- total geographical distance between Nepal’s northern and souther boundaries. However, it could be severely impacted due to the geographical limitations considering the Himalayas, but still is a speculation which would probably not be declassified for a few years.
India purportedly operated the aircraft during various standoffs like 2019 two-day skirmish and Ladakh standoff with China. It is considered as one of the most potent asset available in India, along with the P-8I Neptune of the Indian Navy.