India to Replace Archaic Battlefield Communication With Advanced Radios

Indian Army is fast-tracking a purchase plan that includes state of the art communication systems which will be critical for the success of Cold War doctrine, if it is ever put into practice.

Under the Cold War doctrine, the Indian army is supposed to move fast and quickly, giving little time to the adversary to react. The simultaneous movement of a large number of soldiers and sophisticated military equipment requires fail-safe and secure communications network.

India has invited global manufacturers of software defined radio (SDR) to place bid before February 17. The Indian Army has not disclosed the exact number of airborne, handheld, manpacks and armored fighting vehicle SDRs that will replace combat net radios. With the state of the art SDRs, soldiers spread over larger areas can exchange voice messages, data and images in real time to enable commanders keep track of their soldiers' locations. This will be very crucial in the difficult terrains of the Himalayas.

The SDRs can also deter the threat of Chinese malware to the communication networks. A recent report prepared by the Indian Army design bureau has warned that imported communication equipment has heightened the threat from an embedded virus or malware.
The Indian Army bid document indicates that all the three services will migrate to the new communication systems very soon.

"Eventually all the three services will migrate to SDRs. Therefore interoperability for joint operations will require common waveforms," read a document issued by Indian Army.

"SDRs will be intelligent communicators. They allow expanded communication range, flexibility in operating on a large number of frequencies and avoiding interference. They can also reduce power consumption and afford a high degree of security. Thus SDRs will completely revolutionize field communications," says Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle, a Delhi-based defense expert.

The SDR market is expected to reach up to $ 29 bn by 2021. France's Thales has offered its latest tactical SDR while others in the fray could be BAE Systems, Elbit Systems, Raytheon, Rohde & Schwarz GmbH, Viasat Inc, SAAB AB and Northrop Grumman Corp. "Some of the Indian manufacturers like L&T and BEL have expressed the capability to deliver such systems. However, information about the actual stage of development and production is awaited," added Bhonsle.


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