Software-Defined radios for Armed Forces
Ministry of Defence and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has signed a contract for procurement of Software Defined Radio Tactical (SDR-Tac) worth Rs. 1000 crores. It has been designed and developed by a consortium of domestic agencies and industry – DRDO’s Defence Electronics Application Laboratory, Weapons and Electronics Systems Engineering Establishment, BEL, Centre of AI and Robotics, and Indian Navy. BEL is already supplying SDR – Naval Combat, and SDR – Air is under User Evaluation Trial.
The SDR-Tac to be delivered in three years is a four-channel Multimode, Multiband, 19″ Rack-mountable, shipborne SDR system. It is intended to serve ship to ship, ship to shore, and ship to air voice and data communication for network-centric operations. It supports the simultaneous operation of four channels covering V/UHF and L band, houses multiple types of waveforms for narrowband and wideband application. User Evaluation Trials covering harbor phase and sea phase trials were successfully completed in 2018 for all waveforms under different network configurations. Interoperability trials have also been done like Airborne SDR-AR onboard Dornier Aircraft, SDR-Tac onboard INS Kirch, SDR Manpack, and SDR Handheld.
The transition of Armed Forces from single-purpose radio to flexible SDR is the need of the hour. These SDRs will be backward compatible with existing Indian Radios. SDRs allow the implementation of futuristic waveforms on the same hardware using software programmability, ensuring longer life and cost-saving. Software programmability allows easy changes in modulation types, operating frequencies, bandwidths, multiple access schemes, source and channel coding/decoding methods, encryption/decryption algorithms, which was difficult in traditional hardware-centric radios.
Joint Advanced Technology Program of DRDO and IISc
Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) signed an MoU with IISc Bengaluru to create a Joint Advanced Technology Program – Centre of Excellence (JATP-CoC) in IISc premises to expand the scope and objective of the existing Joint Advanced Technology Program. The CoC will enable Directed Basic and Applied Research and engage with premier research institutes through multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration. DRDO will support JATP in equipping it with advanced and unique research facilities. DRDO Scientists and engineers will work with academic research faculty and scholars to address challenging scientific problems to find innovative solutions in areas namely Advanced Aerospace Systems, Micro and Nanosystems, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Robotics, Quantum Technologies, etc. JATP CoC may also involve with other premier institutions in the country.
JATP was envisioned and created by the Late Honorable President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in 1983. DRDO scientists collaborated with the IISc faculty on various missile technologies. This he hoped will go a long way in developing futuristic technologies.
Adani Group to focus on small arms and ammunition
Adani Land Defence Systems and Technologies will direct its manufacturing operations towards small arms and ammunitions, anti-drone systems, and maintenance and aircraft repair and overhaul. At Aero India 2021, the company displayed a range of small arms from Assault Rifles of the Tavor Family to light machine guns (LMGs) and assault carbines. The Adani Group has acquired Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Systems Limited, which works on parts for SU-30 MkI fighter jets and upcoming orders to supply Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) components.
The group also displayed an anti-drone system at the show. This is required by airports in the face of the growing threat of UAV proliferation. Armed Forces also need the system to protect key installations from emerging threats of Micro UAVs and suicide drones. The Adani Group has bought a 51% stake in PLR Systems, a Joint Venture company with Israel Weapons Industry. At its small arms plant in Gwalior, the group develops iconic Uzi submachine pistols, Negev KMGs, and Tavor Assault rifles.
India enhancing Surveillance Capabilities
India is geared up to keep a tab on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in real-time through an array of drones, sensors, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare equipment. After a confrontation between the two armies in May last year, PLA is building up infrastructure and reinforcing troops along the entire stretch of border. This has compelled the Indian side to enhance surveillance and intelligence gathering mechanism. As LAC cannot be continuously manned like LoC, there is a need for real-time information and gap-free coverage through surveillance systems. Ministry of Defence is all set to induct and acquire ultra-long-range surveillance cameras, Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE), and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) remotely piloted aircraft systems. The army is about to buy on lease 3-4 Satellite communication enabled Heron UAVs from Israel, whereas the Indian Air Force will be acquiring additional Harop Kamikaze Attack Drones.
Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is giving finishing touches to Border Observation and Surveillance System (BOSS) with a well-integrated system of multiple sensors for manned as well as unmanned areas of the LAC. Army has signed Rs. 140 Crore deal with an Indian firm for advanced versions of ‘SWITCH’ drones, which are small enough to be used by infantry soldiers and special forces deployed in high altitude areas like Ladakh. Induction of such drones at the tactical level will give a clear operational picture to battalion commanders and troops on the ground.