by Anil Bhat

On February 15, 2017 Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. 12 minutes later, all the 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV in a predetermined sequence.

The two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite controlled by ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore, provide remote sensing services using panchromatic (black and white) and multi-spectral (colour) cameras.

Of the 103 co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C37, two — ISRO Nano Satellites, INS-1 weighing 8.4 kg and INS-2 weighing 9.7 kg — are India’s technology demonstration satellites and 101 were international customer satellites, of which 96 are of the US and one each are of The Netherlands, Switzerland , Israel , Kazakhstan and the UAE. With this successful launch, the total number of foreign customer satellites launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 180.

While satellites are a great boon in various fields and activities for the people of the country, when used optimally by many departments of the government and private sector, they are invaluable for the defence and security forces.

On February 14, 2017, the first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) in inversion of control (IOC) configuration, having undergone all weather and environmental trials and accepted by the Indian Air Force (IAF), was handed over to it during Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka airbase, Bengaluru, by Dr S. Christopher, chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Considered to be a game changer in air warfare, the AEW&C is a system with state-of-the art Active Electronically Scanned Radar, Secondary Surveillance Radar, Electronic and Communication Counter Measures, Line of Sight (LOS) and beyond Line Of Sight data link, voice communication system and self-protection suite, built on an Emb-145 platform, having an air to air refuelling capability to enhance surveillance time. Complex tactical software has been developed for fusion of information from the sensors, to provide the air situation picture along with intelligence to handle identification/classification threat assessment. Battle management functions are built in house to work as a network centric system of the Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS) node. The AEW&C system has the IAF for induction.

On February 11, 2017 India successfully conducted a test wherein an incoming ballistic missile target was intercepted by an exo-atmospheric interceptor missile off the Bay of Bengal. With this commendable scientific achievement, India has crossed an important milestone in building its overall capability towards enhanced security against incoming ballistic missile threats. It has entered an exclusive club of four nations with developing capabilities to secure its skies and cities against hostile threats.

All these are satellite-backed systems which have made a quantum difference to national security.

Some of the major weapon platforms indigenously designed and developed by DRDO, that have been successfully inducted into the services, include advanced light helicopters, light combat aircraft, Akash missile systems, multi barrel rocket system Pinaka, Arjun tanks, sonars, etc.

Some of the new special innovative projects covering a wide variety of technology domains from aeronautics to missiles and naval systems undertaken by DRDO during last four years are:

  • Pralay Missile
  • Rudra M-II Air to Surface Missile
  • Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (Smart)
  • Ku-band Active Radar Seeker
  • Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT)
  • AESA Based Integrated Sensor Suite (ABISS)
  • EM Gun Powered by a Capacitor Bank
  • Multi-Agent Robotics System (MARS)
  • Ku-band TWTA for Aerospace Application
  • Submarine Periscope
  • Air Independent Propulsion System for Submarine
  • Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS (India)), Radar USHAS

The author, an Indian Army veteran and strategic analyst