Indian Air ForceSpace Sector

Explained: The Strategic Importance of GSAT-7C

Hello defence lovers! Recent Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved a proposal of 2,236 crore Indian rupees for the Indian Airforce to procure a satellite called GSAT-7C and ground-based communication hubs. In this article, we are going to discuss why this GSAT-7C satellite is strategically so important not only for the Indian Airforce but also for other arms of the Indian Armed Forces.

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What Are Software-Defined Radios?

In order to understand the importance of the GSAT 7c satellite, we have to first understand the concept of Software Defined Radio (SDR). A traditional radio uses amplifiers, modulators, demodulators, filters, mixers and other hardware for encoding, sending, receiving and decoding a message. These components used in a traditional radio are vulnerable to jamming and thus cannot operate in a harsh jamming environment. To solve the problem, most modern militaries use SDRs. The SDR uses a computer processor to perform all the tasks instead of analogue hardware. Thus SDRs are very difficult to jam.

The Indian armed forces have been upgrading their existing radio systems with Software-defined radios. Israeli company Rafael Advanced systems have delivered thousands of BNET SDRs to all three branches of the Indian armed forces.

The BNET Family of SDR provides a robust voice and data-link solution and supports simultaneous services of data, voice, and video services with multiple auto relays.

The BNET is operational and combat-proven with a number of air forces around the world, featuring a unique, patented software-defined radio and network architecture, delivering wideband communications with low delay and reliable connectivity.

The variant that will be supplied is the BNET-AR, a modular multiband SDR for airborne platforms, integrated onboard fighters and helicopters as well as Ground Control Stations equipped with the same BNET-AR, enabling net-centric operations and real-time situation awareness. 

From RAFAEL’s BNET SDR Communication Selected By Asian Air Force
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What Is Beyond Line of Sight Communication?

Due to the curvature of the earth, signals from an antenna can only travel a limited distance which is determined by the height of the antenna and the wavelength of the signal transmitted. As a result, we need multiple antennae to communicate over large distances. This principle is known as Line of Sight communication (LOS).

Now let us imagine a situation where one of the many antennas required for establishing the line of sight communication is destroyed. This can stall the entire communication system. To overcome this problem, Beyond Line of sight communication techniques are employed. Skywave propagation which uses the ionosphere for the reflection of waves and using communication satellites are two common techniques.

GSAT-7C

Now the upcoming GSAT-7C will allow Indian armed forces to use their BNET software-defined radios beyond the line of sight mode. This will significantly boost the network-centric warfare capabilities of all three services of the armed forces by providing exceptional situational awareness. The future combats will have extensive electronic warfare. To deal with the rising threat of electronic warfare, we must be prepared with robust jam-proof data links connecting all our critical assets together. GSAT 7C is just the beginning, we need multiple communication satellites to ensure that our data links remain secure, as our main adversary in the region is already equipped with anti-satellite weaponry.

How It Is Different From Other Satellites?

Indian armed forces use various types of satellites ranging from observation satellites to communication satellites. However, GSAT 7c is a bit different from the existing satellites. GSAT7c is the first of its kind. It will be dedicated to secure link software-defined radio communications only. It will provide our armed forces with the capability to communicate beyond the horizon with ultra-low latency and very high rates of data transfer.

How Will It Help In An Actual War?

Ground-based communication systems are depended on a chain of signal towers due to the limitation of the line of sight wave propagation. In a war-like situation, if a single tower is destroyed, it can make the entire system of communication offline for at least a few hours. In such a situation our front line troops won’t be able to communicate with the high command with secure data link. GSAT 7c will eliminate this problem by providing an ultra-secure beyond the horizon data link. Once inducted it will be perhaps the most sophisticated data link in the entire region, making even NATO link 16 obsolete.

Conclusion

Our indigenous secured jam poof data links will be crucial in preventing incidents like that of 27th February 2019, when Group Captain Abhinandan’s radio was jammed by Pakistani fighter jets. The initiative of developing advanced data links equipped with beyond line of sight communication capabilities for our armed forces is appreciable and absolutely necessary. However, just clearing the budget for the acquisition is just not enough, we need to ensure that the system becomes operational as soon as possible.

JAI HIND

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Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

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