19 September 2023, New Delhi: In a significant development aimed at fortifying communication capabilities, the Indian Army has taken a major step forward in its quest to provide secure satellite-based communications to troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The acquisition of cutting-edge portable and lightweight Satcom equipment, including over 160 Mobile Secure Satellite Terminals (MSSTs), is a testament to the army’s commitment to ensuring seamless communication for its personnel.
This recent agreement between the Indian Army and defense PSU Bharat Electronics (BEL) is part of a broader initiative to modernize communication infrastructure. Previous contracts have encompassed a range of satellite communication terminals, including portable satellite terminals, manpack terminals, and satellite communication terminals for light vehicles. These acquisitions are a response to the changing demands of modern warfare, where reliable and secure communication is paramount.
The new MSSTs, hailed as the next-generation of satellite communication technology, promise to be a game-changer for troops deployed in remote and challenging terrains. Their secure portable design is set to act as a significant force multiplier, providing unparalleled military communication support. Notably, these advanced terminals will also play a pivotal role in enhancing communication capabilities for Para Special Forces during rapid small-team surgical operations.
The urgency for such advanced communication equipment has arisen due to the obsolescence of the Army’s older Satcom sets. Troops on long-range patrols along the 3,488-kilometer LAC have faced difficulties in maintaining effective communication with their operational bases and higher military authorities. The reliance on terrestrial radios and satellite phones, which offer neither security nor robust connectivity, has spurred the deployment of the new MSSTs. These terminals, boasting unassailable security features, are poised to bridge the existing communication gap effectively.
This development is part of a broader effort by the Indian armed forces to adapt to the increasingly digitized battlefields of the future. While civilian satellites launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have been integral to communication support, the military now employs dedicated military satellites. In March of the previous year, the Defense Ministry approved a project for the GSAT-7B satellite dedicated to the Army. Expected to be operational by 2025-26, this satellite will further enhance the Army’s communication capabilities, complementing the GSAT-7C satellite approved for the Indian Air Force in November 2021.
In conclusion, the Indian Army’s acquisition of advanced portable and lightweight Satcom equipment represents a significant stride towards strengthening communication along the Line of Actual Control with China. These cutting-edge terminals are set to provide secure and reliable communication support to troops deployed in remote and rugged terrains. With the integration of state-of-the-art space technology and dedicated military satellites, the Indian armed forces are steadily enhancing their ability to operate effectively on the digitalized battlefields of the future.