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News Briefs: IAI, Alpha Design Technologies in UAV deal for India           Uruguay receives mobile border surveillance system          Japan Successfully Launches New Spy Satellite          Northrop Grumman wins British government cyber-security work          Lockheed Martin introduced sensor system that can track and target multiple targets in radar-denied environments          Northrop Grumman Supports Successful Propulsion System Rocket Engine Test          Astrium delivers microwave radiometer for the Sentinel-3A satellite          Russia Retires Faulty Glonass-M Satellite          Russia, US to protect satellite navigation systems at UN level          Satellite Services supplies on-board sub-systems for smallsats and microsats          Patriot and Sentinel Capabilities Incorporated Into Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System          Lockheed Martin's Aegis BMD System Completes Highest Target Intercept Yet          Raytheon completes critical design review for GPS OCX software          Third Advanced EHF Satellite Will Enhance Resiliency of Military Communications          Boeing Offers Improved Cybersecurity Training and Simulation Tool           Britain recruiting cyber-warriors          Japan, US to discuss strengthening cyber-security          

 

Force multiplier

In a major boost to India’s satellite navigation capability, the first of the seven spacecraft constituting the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) will be launched by means of the four stage Indian space work horse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) sometime during the current year.

IRNSS is a regional navigation satellite system independent of American GPS, European Galileo and the Russian Glonass.

Indeed, the strategic advantage of operating an indigenous GPS system hardly needs to be emphasized especially during the critical times.

The coverage area of IRNSS includes the Indian sub-continent and around 1500-km beyond the Indian geographical area.

According to ISRO, the IRNSS system is targeted to provide the dual frequency user with an accuracy better than 20-metres in horizontal and vertical positions in the coverage area.

The IRNSS will have both civilian and military applications. For the Indian defence forces, the IRNSS will be an invaluable tactical tool in terms of launching high precision weapons including long range missiles with a high degree of accuracy.

Satellite navigation

Moreover, IRNSS could serve as an invaluable component of the network centric warfare. As such, there is no denying the fact that a home grown, independent satellite navigation system could be a “force multiplier” for the Indian defence forces.

And over the last two decades, the importance of a space based GPS system in determining the outcome of the battlefield strategy has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt.

According to the sources in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), IRNSS is designed to provide an accurate real time Position, Navigation and Time (PNT) services to users on a variety of platforms with 24 x 7 service availability under all weather conditions.

While three IRNSS  satellites will be placed in geostationary orbit, the two satellites each will be placed in geosynchronous orbit with an equator cross at 55 degree east and 111.5 degree east with an inclination of 29 degree.

IRNSS is designed to provide signals in both L5 and S bands and would provide two basic services such as SPS (Standard Positioning Service) for common civilian users and Restricted Services (RS) for special authorized users including the defence forces.

By all means, a home grown GPS system like IRNSS could serve as a strategic asset of tremendous significance especially during the wartime to counter the possibility of international navigation satellite service operators denying access to the Indian armed forces.

As it is, for long the Indian defence forces have felt thoroughly disadvantaged by the non availability of accurate signals from GPS system on a sustained and uninterrupted basis.

Dedicated navigation satellites have become indispensable for the aircraft, warships, and ground forces to get a head start in the battlefield and derive tremendous tactical advantages to take the adversary by surprise.

Typically, the signals broadcast by the satellites are used by GPS receivers to calculate the three dimensional features of the location of interest along with the current time.

Invaluable asset

Clearly, the GPS receivers designed  to work with signals transmitted by GPS satellites allows the soldiers to find objects and identify targets even under the cover of darkness, inclement weather or in unfamiliar territory.

Indeed, as strategic analysts point out, proper navigation in an unfamiliar territory that is devoid of easily identifiable landmarks is fundamentally vital for the successful accomplishment of reconnaissance missions and well planned military operations.

Significantly, to a large extent, the success of “Desert Storm” military campaign launched in early 1990s by the US led allied forces to free Kuwait from the clutches of Iraq is attributed to the extensive use of handheld GPS devices in tandem with satellite signals.

And once again during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, US led allied forces made extensive use of the GPS system along with a string of satellites meant for a variety of end use.

Similarly, during India’s 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, Indian patrols operating in the rugged and difficult to negotiate terrain along the Line of Control (LOC) initially strayed into enemy held territory with disastrous consequences.

However, the subsequent availability of hand held GPS receivers proved to be invaluable for the special task forces and crack teams engaged in identifying targets and destroying enemy installations.

Indeed, Indian defence establishment has learnt through the hard way that inputs provided by the GPS devices could be exploited to co-ordinate the movement of troops and supply with a high degree of efficiency.

In a military scenario, potential targets need to be constantly tracked before they are flagged as hostile and engaged by various weapon systems and it is here that GPS systems assumes significance.

By feeding the GPS derived data, weapons such as smart bombs, projectiles and even cruise missiles could be guided to hit targets with a high degree of precision.

The GPS in tandem with GIS (Geographic Information System) allows military planners to pictorially view, plan, interpret and visualize data in ways that reveal solution and intelligence as never before.

As it is, most of the combat aircraft now come equipped with GPS gadgets not only for guiding the flight of the aircraft under the cover of darkness, haze and cloud but also to use weapons and ammunition with a vastly enhanced efficiency.

The security agencies in India and elsewhere in the world are worried over the growing use of GPS devices by terrorist groups bent upon giving a practical shape to their vicious plans.

What is more today, GPS devices have become an integral part of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance or C4ISR structure, considered a vital key to the successful battle field strategy.

Data from high performance surveillance and reconnaissance satellites-eagerly sought after by military strategists-could be utilized effectively for military operations only in tandem with GPS data.

But then the biggest hurdle in effectively using a GPS device comes from the possibility of jamming from potential adversaries. No doubt, the GPS spread spectrum signal offers some inherent anti jamming protection.

However, a clever adversary who is determined to nullify the potential of a GPS system would only generate a jamming signal with enough power and suitable temporal and spectral signature.

Because the strength of signals emanating from a satellite gets weakened during its long distance travel, it would be easier for a ground based jammer located closer to the receiver to turn the receiver in-operational through strong signals.

As such, vigorous efforts are on to engineer devices meant to ward off the threat of jamming faced by GPS devices.

GPS systems particularly designed for weapons delivery stand to benefit from the optimal integration of GPS receivers with inertial measurement units and use adaptive processing algorithms and the antennae that reject unwanted signal interference while enhancing the power of the desired satellite signal.

Defence spacecraft

Sometime back the DRDO chief V K Saraswat had pointed out that it is planned to build and launch a series of defence spacecraft systems with surveillance, imaging and navigation capabilities that would help keep an eye on hostile developments including the movement of terrorists and militants in the neighbourhood of the country.

‘There will be a series of defence satellites. Each year, you will find one or two going up”, noted Saraswat.

He made it clear that each of these satellites would be equipped for a specific mission and would carry payloads for a variety of end uses including surveillance, reconnaissance, imaging, navigation and communications.

Going ahead, he stated that the Army, the Navy and IAF, each have their own requirements and it would not be appropriate to say how many each of them would need.

According to Saraswat, with these satellites in orbit, Indian defence forces would be in a position to get a holistic picture of the movement of troops and such other things including the existence of terrorist camps in the immediate neighbourhood.

Saraswat also made a point that the satellite systems would hold the key for the successful functioning of India’s ballistic missile defence shield.

Indeed, in the aftermath of the Pakistan sponsored terrorist attack on Mumbai, US President Barack Obama, citing the use of GPS and netphones in the Mumbai terror attack, described the cyber attack as the “future face of the war”.

Obama remarked “the terrorist who sowed so much death and destruction in Mumbai relied not only on guns and grenades but also on GPS and phone using Voice over Internet.”

Indeed, the Mumbai terrorist attack illustrated the glaring failure of country’s maritime security mechanism to keep an eye on the hostile elements moving across the oceanic waters around India.

The use of the Arabian Sea channel to mount an attack on the commercial metropolis of Mumbai has brought into sharp focus the poor coordination among various agencies involved in the maritime security of the country.

Meanwhile the launch of GSAT-7 advanced communications satellite built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - which is tipped to serve as the exclusive satellite of the Indian Navy - sometime during this year is expected to enhance Indian vigilance across the oceanic waters around India which can be used by terrorists, smugglers, drug runners and sea pirates to threaten Indian security.

Against this broad canvas, the Indian defence set up has felt the need for creating a full fledged and well equipped cyber security command.

Recent reports suggested that the three wings of the Indian services are seriously mulling the creation of a cyber command that would draw assets, resources and expertise from the defence establishment of the country.

Only such a well endowed cyber command supported by a string of satellites could effectively thwart the use of GPS devices and cyber space by terrorists trying into zero in on India.