Navy kicks off largest combat exercise with dedicated satellite above

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by kseeker, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

    Jul 24, 2013
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    NEW DELHI: With an all-seeing eye 36,000km above the equator, the Navy has kicked off its largest exercise with both the western and eastern fleets amassing in the Bay of Bengal for intensive combat manoeuvres.

    "Tropex" or the theatre-level readiness and operational exercise underway across the eastern seaboard with over 50 warships, including aircraft carrier INS Viraat and nuclear submarine INS Chakra, as well as scores of fighters, helicopters and drones is a yearly feature.

    But what is new this year is that the month-long exercise is being held for the first time under the gaze of India's first dedicated military satellite GSAT-7 or "Rukmini", which has a 2,000-nautical mile footprint over the critical Indian Ocean region (IOR).

    This geostationary naval communication and surveillance satellite, launched in August last year, is beaming signals from its UHF, S, Ku and C-band transponders to network all Indian warships, submarines and aircraft with operational centres ashore through high-speed encrypted data-links.

    "The exercise, with Admiral DK Joshi and Eastern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Anil Chopra embarked on board warships, is being conducted with two completely networked fleets widely dispersed across the IOR in a dense maritime environment," said an officer.

    Apart from IAF chipping in with its Sukhoi-30MKIs, Jaguars and IL-78 midair refuellers, the Navy has for the first time also deployed its newly-acquired P-8I long range patrol aircraft or "intelligent hawk eyes" for the wargames.

    The US has till now delivered three of these eight sensor and radar-packed aircraft, contracted for $2.1 billion in 2009. Armed with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the P-8Is are working in conjunction with medium-range Dorniers and Israeli Searcher-II and Heron UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to create a three-tier surveillance grid in the heavily-militarized IOR.

    With the western fleet coming all the way around the Indian peninsula, the "theatre" for the exercise is also significant since India is steadily bolstering military force-levels on the eastern coast and Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to counter China's strategic moves in the IOR.

    Rukmini, with it being first Indian communication satellite to have the high-power UHF (ultra high-frequency) transponder, is a critical cog in all this. Fast shedding its "I see, I kill" kind of solitary operations, the entire Navy is now getting networked for all to get a composite picture of the IOR and swiftly respond to any exigency.

    India has been a very slow starter in the use of space for military operations despite having a robust civilian programme. Space, without actual militarization, can be effectively exploited to keep tabs on enemy movements across land and maritime borders.

    Navy kicks off largest combat exercise with dedicated satellite above - The Times of India

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