Highlights Once Isro places Gsat-7A in the geo stationary orbit, the communication satellite will enable the IAF to interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS aircraft.
It will boost the air force’s network-centric warfare capabilities and enhance its global operations. After the heaviest satellite Gsat-11 mission, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up to launch a dedicated communication satellite for the Indian Air Force.
Talking to TOI, Isro chairman K Sivan said, “Isro will launch a communication satellite Gsat-7A dedicated for the IAF in the third week of this month. In January, there will be a PSLV launch and then communication satellite Gsat-31 will be launched from French Guiana that will replace INSAT 4CR, whose end of life is expected soon. And then we have the Chandrayaan-2 mission in January, whose launch window is from January 3 to February 13.”
Once Isro places Gsat-7A in the geo stationary orbit, the communication satellite will enable the IAF to interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS aircraft. It will boost the air force’s network-centric warfare capabilities and enhance its global operations.
Costing around Rs 500-800 crore, Gsat-7A will have a lifetime of nine years. It will have Ku-band transponders and two deployable solar arrays. The satellite weighing 2.2 tonnes will be launched by GSLV Mk II.
Gsat-7A will be the second satellite dedicated to the military. Earlier, Isro had launched Gsat-7 or Rukmini on September 29, 2013 exclusively for the Navy. Rukmini has helped the Navy monitor the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as the satellite has a nearly 2,000 nautical mile ‘footprint’ and provides real-time inputs to Indian warships, submarines and maritime aircraft.
Gsat-7A will also boost drone operations as it will help the navy upgrade from existing ground control stations to satellite-control of military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The transition will boost the range, endurance and flexibility of UAVs. This comes at a time when India is in process of acquiring US armed Predator-B or Sea Guardian drones, which are high-altitude and long endurance satellite-controlled UAVs that can fire at enemy targets from long distances.
The US had earlier used these deadly UAVs against Taliban targets in Afghanistan which were operated by ground-based pilots sitting at the air force base in Nevada some 12,000 km away. The IAF is also likely to get another satellite Gsat-7C, within a few years that will boost its network-centric operations.
Currently, there are 320 military satellites currently orbiting the earth, with the US owning half of them, followed by Russia and China. Of late, China, considered to be India’s biggest rival, has taken huge strides in developing military assets in space, testing even ASAT (anti-satellite) weapons against “low-earth satellites” in January 17.
India, on the other hand, currently possesses around 13 military satellites. Most of these remote-sensing satellites like Cartosat-series and Risat satellites are placed in the near-earth orbit which help in better scanning of the earth. However, some of these military satellites have also been put in the geo orbit. The forces use these satellites for surveillance, navigation and communication purpose. The remote sensing satellites had also helped the military in the surgical strike against Pakistan to destroy terror launchpads.
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