The Indian Navy is finally set to get their first-ever dedicated military satellite, a naval surveillance and communications one, as part of their long-standing quest to effectively harness the final frontier of space.
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The satellite is ready and is on standby for launch. This would be the first dedicated satellite for the Indian Navy and would full fill the Navy’s ‘Rukmani’ project which is aimed at achieving full network centricity to achieve enhanced maritime domain awareness.
The geo-stationary naval satellite has “already been shipped out” for its launch that will take place “within a month or so”, government sources said.
The Indian Navy has been tight lipped about the satellite and it’s launch as it will add a huge technological leap for a navy that is already a formidable force to reckon with.
The satellite, will have over a 1,000 nautical mile footprint over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) stretching from Africa’s east coast right till Malacca Strait, will enable the Navy to network all its warships, submarines and aircraft with operational centres ashore through high-speed data-links.
Ground based infrastructure and installation of equipments on warships has been tested thoroughly. During the last naval exercise, the Indian Navy had extensively tested it’s network centricity. The exercise was held using a hired communication satellite through which the entire fleet was linked.
The ships operating in the Bay of Bangal would get real-time data from ships operating in the Arabian Sea. There are around 300 dedicated or dual-use military satellites orbiting around the earth at present, with the US operating over 50% of them, followed by Russia and China.
China, in particular, is pursuing an extensive military-space programme that even extends to advanced ASAT (anti-satellite) capabilities with “direct-ascent” missiles, hit-to-kill “kinetic” and directed-energy laser weapons.
DRDO, on its part, contends it can quickly fashion ASAT weapons, if required, by marrying the propulsion system of the over 5,000-km Agni-V missile tested recently with the “kill vehicle” of the almost-ready two-tier BMD ( ballistic missile system) system it has developed.
But India is still some distance away from effective ASAT capabilities. The government is also not yet willing to establish a tri-Service Aerospace Command on the lines of the Strategic Forces Command which handles nuclear weapons.
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