The day-at-sea organised by the Indian Navy’s (IN) Western Naval Command on November 14 provided some additional insights into the force modernisation activities of the IN. For instance, most of the frontline warships and fleet-support vessels are now being refrofitted with RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd’s C-PEARL-M ESM system, which enables the automatic detection, data measurement and identification of threats. The C-PEARL-M system is known as SANKET. Other items being refrofitted include the RUKMINI SATCOMS-suite, which is imported directly from Israel’s ORBIT Communication Systems, Ltd through its Indian agent Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL); and Consilium Selux X-band navigation radars and ECDIS (electronic navigation chart display) systems supplied by Consilium AB of Sweden. All this will also go on board the three Project 15A guided-missile destroyers (DDG), four Project 15B DDGs, and the seven projected Project 17A guided-missile frigates.
As far as AEW operations go, the present practice calls for one Ka-31 to be stationed 96km ahead of an aircraft carrier-based battle group, with all AEW-related data being relayed by a secure data-link (known as Link-S) to the aircraft carrier’s combat information centre (CIC), and not directly to the MiG-29Ks or Sea Harriers. In future, depending on availability of the GSAT-7 satellite (which will be the IN’s first dedicated fleet satellite communications satellite, expected to be launched next year), both the existing ship-to-ship Link-2 and Link-S data-links will be making use of SATCOMS channels for two-way relay of data and communications. The GSAT-7 (INSAT-4F) will be a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band. The satellite will weigh 2,330kg with a payload power of 2,000W. The follow-on GSAT-7A will be an IAF-specific communications satellite.—Prasun K. Sengupta